April 30, 2014
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Chairman John Culberson gave the following statement on the House floor today, in support of H.R. 4486, the Fiscal Year 2015 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill:
"It is my honor, along with my good friend from Georgia, to present to the House for its consideration, the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
"This is a bipartisan bill that provides for the peace of mind and quality of life for our military – and that ensures that our veterans receives the benefits that they have earned as a result of the sacrifices that they have made for our freedom.
"It includes $71.5 billion in discretionary funding, which is $1.8 billion less than fiscal year 2014 and $398 million less than the budget request.
"The bill provides the full budget request of $6.6 billion for military construction projects. While this bill is $1.8 billion less than fiscal year 2014, it includes $64.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs which is $1.5 billion more than last year. This includes $20 million more than was requested to get at the claims backlog and $17 million more than was requested for the electronic health record.
"However, our responsibility to our veterans does not end at funding – we must ensure that the funds are used wisely and that the VA truly represents their motto – “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan” – We must exercise rigorous oversight – to that end, language has been included to: continue reporting requirements on the claims backlog; restrict the use of the 75 percent of the electronic health funds until the VA takes the next steps to assure that this record will be interoperable with DOD; and limit the availability of construction funds to five years so that veterans do not wait endlessly for the completion of a hospita.
"It has been a great pleasure to work with Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey on this important legislation.
"I also want to thank all of the Members of the Subcommittee. I know that we have been moving quickly since the budget was released and I appreciate your hard work and responsiveness during these busy weeks.
"We have all worked together to make certain that the men and women of the United States military can focus on their mission of protecting this great nation with complete peace of mind. I urge you to support this bill."