Lawmakers seek to protect VA from future shutdowns

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate panel has approved legislation designed to ensure an array of veterans programs are exempt from the threat of any future government shutdown.

Health care delivered through the Department of Veterans Affairs was unaffected during last month's 16-day shutdown because Congress funds health services one year in advance.

Now, lawmakers want to extend similar safeguards to disability payments, pensions and educational assistance, all of which would have been halted if the shutdown had continued much longer.

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has already approved a similar measure. The Senate panel approved its version by a vote of 13-1 on Tuesday.

Veterans groups are aggressively lobbying for passage of the bill, saying that the shutdown exposed a serious flaw in the VA's ability to properly care for veterans.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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