April 30, 2014
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers 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:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R.4486, the Fiscal Year 2015 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill.
"I am happy to be on the floor today with this bill – both because it kicks off the 2015 appropriations cycle at a very early date, and because it does the important work of providing funding for our military infrastructure and for the care of our veterans.
"This legislation provides $71.5 billion in discretionary funding to meet these needs.
"Within this total, we’ve provided $6.6 billion for military construction projects – like family housing, medical units, and education and training facilities. This will help make sure that the men and women of our armed forces have the quality of life that they deserve during their service, and that they have the support they need for our nation’s military missions.
"The legislation also provides a total of $64.7 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs. This goes toward fulfilling our commitments to our veterans – making sure that in exchange for their service and sacrifice, we will take care of their health and well-being.
"Of this, $45 billion goes toward VA medical services – including funding for mental health care, suicide prevention, rural health initiatives, homeless veteran treatment, and job training.
"In addition to fulfilling these duties, this bill also addresses our congressional responsibility to ensure that our government works efficiently and responsibly.
"This includes making sure that our benefit programs and health systems are operating smoothly and efficiently. This bill continues my Committee’s hard work to reduce the disability claims backlog, and demands that an interoperable DOD/VA electronic health record system is up and running as soon as possible.
"By providing increased funding for claims processing, continuing oversight requirements that benchmark progress on the backlog, and placing conditions on funding for the modernization of the VA health record system, we are sending a strong message to the agency that we want these problems fixed, and we want them fixed now. Measures like these will help guarantee that our government is doing its best to serve the people without wasting federal funds.
"In total, this bill provides $1.8 billion less than last year – hard and fast proof that we can streamline this government and root out unnecessary spending without adversely affecting our troops and veterans.
"For example, less funding is provided to military construction accounts due to current price stability and a favorable bid climate, which saves taxpayer dollars but has no effect on quality of life or services for our troops.
"Mr. Speaker, this bill is a model of bipartisanship that represents the good we can do through the appropriations process. That is in part thanks to the Subcommittee, led by Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Bishop, who worked on a collaborative basis to produce a bill that truly fulfills the needs of our military and veterans. I also must take a moment to thank our staff, who all put in a great deal of hard work to get this bill before the House today.
"As you know, Mr. Speaker, this is the first of 12 appropriations bills that we must bring to the floor before the August recess. With an agreed-upon budget, an early start, the cooperation of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and ample floor time, I believe we can complete our work – our congressional duty – on time, on budget, and under regular order. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make this goal a reality.
"I couldn’t be prouder to kick off our FY 2015 appropriations bill with this legislation. I urge my colleagues to support it."