President Clinton last week vetoed a federal spending-reduction bill that would have cut $50 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system's 1995 budget.
The bill had called for the reduction in the VA's $16.2 billion medical-care budget to come in the form of cuts in services or equipment purchases.
It also would have reduced by $31 million the department's major construction reserve fund, which is money appropriated to build hospitals and other structures but never spent. The VA was slated to receive $354.3 million in major construction project appropriations in fiscal 1995, which ends Sept. 30.
Clinton cited cuts in job training and education, not the VA cutbacks, as his reasons for the veto, the first of his presidency. That explanation left open the possibility that 1995 cuts still could be in store for the VA if the White House and Congress renew negotiations on the measure.
Congressional Republicans said they do not intend to try to override Clinton's veto, which would a require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.
One veterans group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, applauded the veto because the proposed cuts would have seriously hurt the VA healthcare system, said VFW spokesman William Smith.
The proposed cuts are considerably less than either house had considered earlier in the session. The House originally proposed cutting $156 million in construction funds for six new outpatient clinics and $50 million in medical equipment purchases.
The House later restored that funding and instead took a similar amount from youth community service programs.
The Senate later proposed $50 million in construction-reserve cuts: $30 million in healthcare personnel cuts and $20 million in medical equipment purchases cuts.
The bill Clinton vetoed was the result of negotiations between the House and Senate that reduced the Senate-passed cuts.