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Groups call for increased VA spending in advance of Obama’s 2015 budget

Four of the nation’s leading veterans organizations this week proposed a budget plan that calls for increased spending on veterans programs in 2015 and beyond.

The policy statement, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America, calls for $72.9 billion in funding for Department of Veterans Affairs health care and benefits. Its release on Tuesday came exactly a month before President Obama plans to release his 2015 budget wish list.

Department of Veterans Affairs (Charles Dharapak/AP) – Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters.

One of the largest increases under the plan would come from construction spending. It asks for $3.9 billion in funding for such programs, amounting to $2.7 billion more than the amount provided in the spending bill Congress and President Obama approved last month, according a summary from the groups.

“Sixty-year-old facilities do not get better with age,” said VFW national commander William Thien, adding that “continuous underfunding only makes construction more expensive, our facilities less safe, and jeopardizes the VA’s ability to honor its commitment to America’s veterans.”

The joint proposal also calls for $611 million for medical and prosthetics research, which would represent an increase of $25 million compared to 2014, according to the groups.

Spending on the Veterans Benefits Administration would increase by $44 million compared to the 2014 level, jumping to $2.5 billion for 2015, the summary said.

Funding for VA health care would rise to $61.1 billion for an increase of $2.3 billion compared to the Obama administration’s 2015 advance appropriation, according to the groups.

Follow Josh Hicks on TwitterFacebook or Google+. Connect by e-mail at  josh.hicks@washpost.comVisit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics for more federal news. E-mail with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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