Center For War-Related Brain Injuries Faces Major Budget Cut From Republican-Led Congress
Listen to conservative talk radio or even some Republican politicians, and you'll hear a steady stream of hokum about how Republicans support the troops, and Democrats don't.
The problem is, with the current Republican-led Congress, actions speak louder than words.
USA Today reports that Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.
House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center — half of what the center received last fiscal year. (The center had requested $19 million.) The House has already passed its legislation, and the Senate is expected to do so soon.
"Honestly, they would have loved to have funded it, but there were just so many priorities," Jenny Manley, spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee, told the newspaper. "They didn't have any flexibility in such a tight fiscal year."
Right, because if there's one thing that the current Republican leadership is good for, it's fiscal conservatism. The only reason Republicans don't have flexibility now is because under the Bush Administration's watch, the federal deficit has grown by more than $2 trillion, forcing the administration to ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling four times in five years.
Jim Mueller, the VFW’s commander in chief, told Army Times that the proposal "clearly indicates that the Congress is out of touch with the realities and consequences of war.”
“You either take care of the troops or you do not,” said Mueller, a Vietnam War veteran.
Is this simply a budget matter?
USA Today reports that the brain injury center has "clashed with the Pentagon in recent months over a program to identify troops who have suffered mild to moderate brain injuries in Iraq from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs — the most common weapons used by insurgents."
The center urged the Pentagon to screen all troops returning from Iraq in order to treat symptoms and create a database of brain injury victims. But the Pentagon thus far has declined to do the screening.
Is it possible that the budget cut is payback?