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Is the VA Budget Increasing for 2024?

Is the VA Budget increasing for 2024? Total Department of Veterans Affairs spending would be more than $320 billion in fiscal 2024 under the plan, part of a nearly $1.7 trillion proposal for federal operations next year.

Administration officials explained that the draft will allow VA leaders to “honor America’s commitment to veterans, service members, families, caregivers, and survivors.” However, specific priorities and purchases of the entire federal spending plan will not be unveiled until next week.

Military Times’ recent article entitled “White House plan calls for small boost in VA program budget” reports that the annual unveiling of the White House budget is essentially a sum-up of any administration’s goals, many of which are unlikely to survive passage through Congress. This latest proposal is expected to face intense debate in the coming months.

Advocates are looking for a boost in VA discretionary funding to expand healthcare services for elderly vets and improve aging buildings.

The recent release sets the parameters for that debate on VA and other spending. It also shows the administration’s continued support for boosting budget authority for veterans programs. The proposal calls for $137.9 billion in VA discretionary budget spending next fiscal year, a boost of about 2.2%. In 2022, that non-mandatory department spending increased by about 19%. Moreover, the discretionary budget boost has only been below 2.2% once in the last 11 years, in fiscal 2016.

Nonetheless, officials in the Biden administration say the modest increase in spending is sufficient to keep pace with VA programming needs. The total includes $3.1 billion for homelessness prevention programs, $2.4 billion for caregiver support programs and $1 billion for women-specific healthcare initiatives; all increases over current funding levels.

Although the increase in the VA budget is modest, it would mean another significant boost in VA spending percentagewise. In fiscal 2014, the entire annual VA budget totaled roughly $154 billion. Ten years later, the White House plan of $320 billion in fiscal 2024 is more than double that total.

VA does have much of its operating budget approved a year early due to advance appropriations language added to the federal budget several years ago. If a government shutdown over GOP objections to Biden budget plans is triggered soon, VA hospitals and most other support services would stay open into fiscal 2024 despite the funding lapses.

Reference: Military Times (March 9, 2023) “White House plan calls for small boost in VA program budget”

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