1. Budget Update:
As of this morning, Congress and the Administration have not reached an agreement to fund the Federal Government for the
remainder of FY 2011. If no federal budget or temporary funding agreement is reached, the Federal Government will be
forced to curtail nonessential services beginning tonight at 12:01 a.m., April 9. The following is what we have been
told will occur should the government shut down:
* Department of Veterans Affairs:
-- All VA medical centers and clinics will remain open. This is in large part due to the VFW-supported advanced
appropriations legislation that became law on Oct. 22, 2009.
-- VFW service officers will be able to enter their offices inside VA facilities and have access to the VA computer system.
-- Disability compensation and pension, survivor and/or education benefits will be paid; however, new claims for disability
compensation and pension, survivor and/or education benefits will be accepted but not processed.
-- Previously scheduled Appeals hearings will be held.
-- The National Cemetery Administration will remain open for burials, but there may be some delays.
-- Additional information is available at Veterans Field Guide.
* Department of Defense:
-- DOD will retain the ability and authority to continue to protect vital U.S. interests at home and abroad.
-- Military hospitals and clinics will remain open; however, some elective procedures could be postponed.
-- Military retiree and survivor benefits will be paid; however, new applications for retiree and survivor benefits will be
accepted but not processed.
-- Military pay is still being discussed.
The VFW encourages everyone to monitor their local news for additional developments as they occur. In addition, should you wish
to make your voice heard directly to Congress, go to http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/
2. VA Construction Hearing:
The VFW testified Tuesday before the House Veterans Affairs Committee
on VA Capitol Construction plans. The VFW views the VA's Strategic Capitol Investment Planning prioritization process favorably,
but believes the current funding request of $590 million is well below the need. The Independent Budget, which VFW coauthors with
AMVETS, DAV and PVA, recommends $1.85 billion in FY 2012. Committee members agreed that funding does not match the aggressive 10-year
plan that SCIP envisions. Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) discussed having an independent third party review VA's ongoing and
future construction projects. For more information on the hearing, to include VFW's testimony, go to the House VA Committee website at
3. CHAMPVA Dependent Equity:
House VA Committee Ranking Member Bob Filner (D-CA) introduced H.R. 115 to change
the maximum age for dependent children to receive CHAMPVA benefits from age 23 to 26. This legislation, if approved, would increase the
age eligibility limit to what is currently provided to civilian dependents under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and to
military dependents under the Tricare Affirmation Act. Please contact your legislators and urge them to pass H.R. 115. To contact your
member of Congress, go to http://capwiz.com/vfw/dbq/officials/
4. Military Retiree Withholding Tax:
Military retirees saw a slight reduction in 2011 paychecks due to the return
to pre-2009 Federal Income Tax Withholding rates. According to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 temporarily boosted retiree pay in 2009 and 2010 by reducing FITW rates. The credit was only intended to apply
to wage earners, but military retirees received it because federal law classifies military retired pay as a wage, not a pension. The Making
Work Pay tax credit expired Dec. 31, 2010, and FITW tax tables reverted back to previous levels, therefore the tax increase. For more
information, go to http://www.dfas.mil/rapay/retirementpay/taxwithholdingchange.html
.April 8, 2011