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How will the debt ceiling deal benefit health care and other programs for veterans?

The deal reached as part of the debt ceiling increase included Biden’s proposals to fund veteran medical care and exposure to toxic substances.

Debt ceiling agreement matches Biden’s 2024 budget proposals

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy brokered a deal that will suspend the debt ceiling for two years effectively raising it. In exchange the White House agreed to some of the Republicans demands to cut federal spending, but not nearly the amount the House GOP had proposed going into the negotiations.

The legislation to seal the Biden-McCarthy deal and make it law is working its way through Congress, with members of the Republican Freedom Caucus decrying the concessions made by their leader in the House. Congressional lawmakers have until Monday 5 June to get the bill through both chambers and to Biden’s desk so that he can sign it into law.

Failure to do so would see the United States unable to fully pay its bills for the first time in history. Such a default, besides creating an economic calamity, would see benefits to Social Security recipients and veterans delayed as well as paychecks to government workers and the military.

How will the debt ceiling deal benefit health care and other programs for veterans?

The good news in the agreement is that it includes Biden’s proposals for the 2024 budget to increase the defense budget by three percent to $886 billion. The non-partisan deal would fund medical care for veterans at the level that the Biden administration had proposed in March.

The two percent boost to the Department of Veteran Affairs’ medical budget would give the agency $121 million. The debt ceiling agreement between the White House and House Republican leadership will also put $20.3 billion into the Toxic Exposures Fund. That’s the amount the Biden administration had requested and four times what GOP lawmakers had proposed to pay for the additional VA health care and benefits included in the PACT Act.

The recently passed legislation expands the list of health conditions that the VA assumes or “presumes” are the result of exposure to toxic substances or environmental hazards. These include Agent Orange, burn pits along with other toxic substances.