June 15, 2017
The House Appropriations Committee today approved the fiscal year 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill on a voice vote. The legislation meets the goals outlined by the White House to rebuild the military, providing funding to house, train, and equip military personnel, for housing and services to military families, and to help maintain base infrastructure. The bill also funds veterans’ benefits and programs.
In total, the legislation provides $88.8 billion in discretionary funding – $6 billion above the fiscal year 2017 level. This includes $638 million in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, which includes funding for European Reassurance Initiative projects.
Within this total, funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is increased by $4 billion – 5 percent – over the fiscal year 2017 level, including funding to increase access to services for veterans, and to increase oversight and accountability within the department. This includes the advance funding provided for veterans in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill.
Military construction is increased by $2.1 billion – 25 percent over the fiscal year 2017 level – to provide the necessary resources to continue to rebuild our military, to prepare our service members to be to face existing and emerging threats, and to care for military families.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen made the following statement on the legislation:
“Ensuring that the proper resources are available to rebuild our military is an essential priority of Republicans in Congress and the White House, and is key to conducting successful missions and keeping our nation secure. Our servicemen and women must have the tools to do their jobs, and also the peace of mind that their needs and the needs of their families are being taken care of here at home and around the world. Just as importantly, our veterans – who have sacrificed so much to protect our way of life – deserve the full health services and benefits they have earned,” Chairman Frelinghuysen said.
“This legislation includes the funding and policies necessary to deliver on our promises to our military and our veterans. It also includes strong oversight measures to assure that tax dollars are being used wisely and to stop waste and abuse in its tracks, so that our troops and veterans get the most benefit of every cent,” Chairman Frelinghuysen continued.
Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Charlie Dent also commented on his bill:
“This bill demonstrates the strong support that my colleagues and I have for the brave men and women who have endured hardships and sacrifices through their service to our great nation. The bill includes significant resources to provide high-quality, comprehensive care to those who are treated through the Department of Veterans Affairs to meet the quality of life needs of those currently serving, and to enhance our readiness and defensive posture around the world. By incorporating feedback from those who represent communities all across the country and maintaining an emphasis on our veterans and military families, I am confident that this legislation will bring about positive results for our national heroes. This bill will allow us to keep the promises made to those who have served while simultaneously ensuring further accountability and oversight for taxpayer dollars,” Chairman Dent said.
Chairman Frelinghuysen also expressed the deep sympathies on behalf of himself and the Committee to the victims of yesterday’s shooting at the GOP practice for the Congressional baseball game.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the sad and traumatic event yesterday. We offer our sincere prayers for Mr. Scalise, Zack Barth, Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey, Special Agent Krystal Griner, and their families. We also commend the extremely heroic acts of the U.S. Capitol Police, who put their lives on the line time after time to protect all of us, and who saved the lives of many yesterday.”
The following amendments to the bill were adopted by the full committee today:
Rep. Dent – The manager’s amendment makes technical and noncontroversial changes to the bill and report. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
Rep. Wasserman Shultz – The amendment inserts language to the bill that a federal hiring freeze shall not apply to the Veterans Crisis Line employees. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
For a bill summary, please click here.
For the draft text of the bill, please click here.
For the draft bill report, please click here.