By Ben Kesling
WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration's proposed budget for fiscal 2020 would increase funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an agency that has seen a steady rise in funding over the past nearly two-decades of war. President Trump made a focus on veterans issues part of his central campaign pledge.
The budget would provide a 7.5% boost in the department's discretionary spending -- categories other than benefits or other mandatory payments -- bringing the total discretionary budget to $93.1 billion.
Funding for medical care would rise nearly 10%, fully funding VA medical-care requirements and providing billions of dollars to implement a sweeping law passed in 2018 to change the way veterans' health care is provided and the streamlining access to private-sector care, according to administration figures.
Implementing that law, known as the Mission Act, is expected to increase the deficit by nearly $100 billion over the next decade, according to administration estimates.
While the administration seeks to increase spending on a number of VA programs, it also is proposing cost-savings over the next decade by cutting into veterans' cost-of-living adjustments, reprising a controversial proposal from its 2018 budget that was shelved after veterans groups and Congress questioned the idea.
The budget proposal would boost resources for suicide prevention and add millions to allow veterans better access to burial and memorial benefits, including new cemeteries.
The broader federal budget focuses spending on infrastructure projects, and the VA budget reflects that priority with $1.2 billion for a new hospital in Louisville, Ky., and funding to complete unfinished projects.