President Barack Obama recently signed the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009 into law. This new law will provide timely, predictable funding for the Veterans Health Administration one year ahead of the regular appropriations process. Over the past 2 decades, the VA budget has been late almost every year, often by months. This has generally caused delays and uncertainty that often plague funding for veterans health care.

President Obama stated “At this very moment, the VA is operating without a budget, making it harder for VA medical centers and clinics to deliver the care our vets need. The hardworking folks at the VA know this. It’s frustrating for them and it’s frustrating for our vets who pay the price when budgets are delayed: the new doctors, nurses, and critical staff that aren’t hired; the new medical equipment that isn’t purchased; the construction of new facilities and clinics that aren’t started; the new programs for medical care that are delayed.” President Obama went on to say “Again, with this message we are ensuring that the VA can more effectively plan for the future and our veterans will have the sources of care and support they have earned.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi added “This is a happy day for us because we are making progress for our veterans. This landmark legislation upholds our commitment to our nation’s veterans, to the men and women who serve overseas so that we can know safety here at home. The support of 409 Members — a very, very strong bipartisan show of support — shows that they care for our veterans here in the Congress in a very bipartisan way.”

Speaker Pelosi, when she became Minority Leader, made a commitment to Veterans organizations to get this legislation passed. This bill was co-sponsored by Senator Danny Akaka (D-Hawaii) and by a young Senator (at that time) named Barack Obama, who as a presidential candidate made a promise to get this legislation passed.