Obama Pulls $2.6 Billion from Vets for Refugees-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
President Obama has pulled $2.6 billion from veteran programs and has redirected it toward Syrian refugees.
President Obama hasn’t pulled $2.6 billion from veteran programs to help support Syrian refugees.
That rumor combines two stories that appear to be unrelated.
In July 2015 it was reported that the Department of Veteran Affairs faced a $2.6 billion funding gap for the year. But Obama didn’t “pull” the $2.6 billion from veterans programs to support Syrian refugees. The military publication Stars and Stripes explains the $2.6 billion shortfall as such:
The VA told lawmakers it is $2.6 billion short on funding because patients and appointments have ballooned over the past year. It wants to cover the shortfall by tapping into an emergency $10 billion Veterans Choice fund created by Congress last summer to provide outside health care to veterans who cannot get timely appointments at the VA.
In order to correct the funding gap for veterans’ health care, House Republicans said they would work to allow the VA more flexibility so that it could move funds from other areas of its budget to health care, where it faced the $2.6 billion shortfall.
In a separate story, White House press secretary Josh Ernest announced in September 2015 that the U.S. would give an additional $419 million in humanitarian assistance to those impacted by the Syrian civil war before the end of the year, bringing the 2015 total up to $1.6 billion, United Press International reports:
The majority of new funding supports non-governmental organizations and the United Nations’ efforts in Syria, mostly through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Children’s Fund.
The United States will have given more than $4.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the Syrian civil war by the fiscal year’s end.
“Part of the new funding will respond to the 2015 appeals of $8.4 billion from the United Nations for Syria and the region,” the White House said in a statement. “It is important to note that even with this contribution, the UN appeals for humanitarian aid to address the crisis in Syria are only 38 percent funded, resulting in cutbacks to food and other essential services.”
So, the rumor that Obama pulled $2.6 billion in funding for veterans and gave it to Syrian refugees is false. It combines to different (and unrelated) situations.
To recap, the VA reported a $2.6 billion funding gap in 2015 because of higher health care costs than expected — not because Obama had “pulled” the funding for Syrian refugees. In response, lawmakers agreed to make the VA’s budget more flexible so that funds could be reallocated from other areas of the budget to cover health care costs.
Then, four months later, the White House announced that it would allocate an additional $419 million in humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015, bringing the yearly total to $1.6 billion. That money was not drawn from veterans programs, which is contrary to what the rumor claims.