Sunday, July 17, 2005


From your Chicago Sun-Times:

Fellow Republicans warned House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay more than a year ago that the government would come up short -- by at least $750 million -- for veterans' health care.

The leaders' response: Fire the messengers.


New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, had told the House GOP leadership that the Veterans Affairs Department needed at least $2.5 billion more in its budget.

The Senate passed a bill with that increase; the House's bill was $750 million short.

Smith and 30 other Republicans wrote to their leaders in March 2004 to make the point that lawmakers who were not the usual outspoken advocates for veterans were troubled by the move.

Failure to come up with the additional $2.5 billion, they contended, could mean higher co-payments, rationing of health care services, long waiting times or other problems.

Still, the House ignored them.

Smith was rebuked by several Republicans for sounding the spending alarm, and House leaders yanked his chairmanship in January.

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