June 7, 2018
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen gave the following statement on H.R. 5895, the Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations package including the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch funding bills, on the House floor today:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5895, the first set of Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations Bills – Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
I’m pleased that the House is considering three Appropriations bills this afternoon. These bills provide funding to rebuild our military infrastructure, support military families, improve nuclear security, support our nation’s energy and water infrastructure, and assure the smooth and safe operations the Legislative Branch
To highlight a few of these important investments –
The Energy and Water bill, under Chairman Simpson’s direction, funds our national security and supports the energy and water infrastructure that keeps our economy moving.
In total, the bill provides $44.7 billion in discretionary funding.
To support a strong nuclear national security strategy – particularly at this time of rapidly shifting global dynamics – the Energy and Water bill provides targeted increases that will maintain an effective nuclear arsenal, preserve our Navy’s nuclear powered fleet, and keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of those who would misuse them.
Beyond these critical responsibilities, the bill also directs $7.28 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for projects and activities that will improve America’s ports and waterways, and promote public health and safety.
The bill further supports economic growth by investing in Department of Energy programs that advance our goal of an “all-of-the-above” solution to energy independence. This includes funding to continue Congressional efforts for safe, secure storage of our nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
Next, the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, under Chairman Yoder’s lead, provides $3.8 billion in funding for the operation of the Congress and its support agencies, excluding Senate-only items.
It may be the smallest of the 12 Appropriations bills, but it is very important to the operation of our great Democracy.
This total represents a small increase of $132 million above current enacted levels. These increases are directed to critical programs that make our Capitol Complex more secure and more efficient in its operations. This includes supporting our Capitol Police force to keep the complex safe for members and visitors.
Lastly, the Military Construction and Veterans Appropriations bill, led by former Chairman Dent and now Chairman Carter, provides a total of $96.9 billion in discretionary funding at a crucial time for our Armed Forces and the VA.
This includes a total of $11.3 billion for military construction projects – a 3.8 percent increase above FY18 levels, recognizing the great need to rebuild our military infrastructure.
This funding will enable our troops to fight current and emerging threats around the globe, as well as provide them with peace of mind and care for their families.
The bill also includes a total of $85.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs – the largest total dollar amount for the VA in history. These additional funds are directed to critical priorities within the VA – improved access to health care, quicker claims processing, and support for crucial health programs like suicide prevention and mental health outreach, and opioid abuse prevention.
This also includes $1.2 billion for the new VA electronic health record system to accelerate progress on this long-awaited project.
Accompanying these funding increases are strong oversight provisions that will increase accountability at both the Pentagon and the VA, and ensure that precious tax dollars go where they are most needed.
I want to thank the Chairs and Ranking Members and all of the staff who worked on these three bills that all Members should be proud to support.
These three bills received bipartisan support in Committee because they focus on universal priorities – national security, care for our veterans and military families, and essential infrastructure.
I’m extremely disappointed to hear that the Minority has directed its members to oppose this Appropriations package despite the fact they were all constructed in a bipartisan manner, as has been done historically.
If there is no Minority support for this package, those members will be turning their backs on the House’s historic support for our veterans and their families, and for modernizing our military installations around the world – which includes medical facilities, new barracks and mess halls, playgrounds, schools, and family housing.
I want to thank Chairman Simpson, Chairman Yoder, former Chairman Dent, and now Chairman Carter for their leadership on these bills.
I’d also like to thank the hard-working staff who helped bring these package of bills to the floor today, including: Jenny Panone and Tim Monahan from the Legislative Branch Subcommittee; Sue Quantius, Sarah Young, Kiya Batmanglidj, and Tracey Russell from the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee; and Angie Giancarlo, Loraine Heckenberg, Perry Yates, and Amy Murphy from the Energy and Water Subcommittee; along with the full committee and my personal staff.
I urge my colleagues to support these responsible Appropriations bills and vote “yes” on H.R. 5895.