Appropriations Committee Approves Fiscal Year 2020 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Funding Bill
WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today approved the fiscal year 2020 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill on a vote of 31 to 21. The legislation funds the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other related agencies, including the American Battle Monuments Commission and Armed Forces Retirement Home.
In total, the legislation provides $108.1 billion in discretionary funding – $10.1 billion above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This includes $921 million in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding as well as $2 billion for emergency needs related to Hurricanes Michael and Florence at military bases in North Carolina and Florida.
Within this total, discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is increased by $7.8 billion – nine percent – over the fiscal year 2019 enacted 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 2019 appropriations bill.
Funding for military construction is increased by $207 million – two percent over the fiscal year 2019 enacted level. This funding will provide needed resources for our servicemembers to face existing and emerging threats, and to care for military families.
“This bill rebuilds and fortifies our national security infrastructure and improves the quality of life for our servicemembers and their families, and it ensures timely delivery of health care for our Veterans,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “It confronts emerging global threats in the Middle East, North Africa and Russia, while tending to hurricane recovery needs here at home in North Carolina and Florida. It also steers additional funding to mental health programs, homelessness, women’s health and housing needs, while bolstering the veterans claims process at the VA and whistleblower oversight. And it does all this without stealing funds from our armed forces to pay for President Trump’s border wall boondoggle. This nation must value and support its veterans and military families with words backed up by action. This bill does that.”
“The bill before us honors our commitment to servicemembers, veterans, and thousands of military families who sacrifice every day for our nation,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. “We are making significant investments to ensure they have the facilities needed to confront emerging threats, guarantee access to reliable family housing, and deliver health care, benefits, and assistance veterans have earned. In addition to these investments is a provision ensuring we protect these vital military construction resources from misappropriation for the President’s wasteful border wall.”
The following amendments to the bill were adopted by the full Committee:
Rep. Wasserman Schultz – The manager’s amendment makes technical and noncontroversial changes to the bill and report. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
Rep. Fortenberry – The amendment provides $300 million in emergency funding to title V for damage related to Offutt Air Force Base. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
Rep. Graves #1 – The amendment prohibits funds from being be used to replace or diminish the quality of care provided by Medicare Advantage and the TRICARE program. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
Rep. Graves #3 – The amendment, as amended by Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz, prohibits VA from hiring child care providers convicted of a sex offense, an offense involving a child victim, or a violent crime. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.