Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Funding Bill

July 5, 2020
Press Release
Legislation increases discretionary funding by $5.1 billion above the enacted 2020 level, upholding our commitment to servicemembers, Veterans, and military families; Legislation also includes $12.5 billion in emergency spending for VA to address rising cost of Veterans’ health care

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the fiscal year 2021 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation supports our military personnel, bolsters resources for military families, and provides robust funding for veterans’ benefits, healthcare, and other programs.

In total, the bill provides $250.9 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding, an increase of $15.2 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level and $2.3 billion above the President’s budget request. Of this amount, discretionary funding totals $115.5 billion, an increase of $5.1 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level. This includes $350 million in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding, as well as $12.5 billion in emergency appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs to address the sharply rising cost of providing health care for Veterans.  

“This year’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill makes critical and serious investments in veterans and military families, reinforces our national security infrastructure, and blocks President Trump from stealing appropriated funds from servicemembers to backfill projects he canceled to pay for an ineffective, nativist wall,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “In the midst of a global pandemic, we are making unprecedented investments in our veterans through our VA medical system to ensure that every veteran has access to the top-notch health care that they deserve. The MilCon/VA bill includes historic spending for women veterans, mental health, suicide prevention, medical research, and homeless prevention, while closely monitoring VA claims processing and system modernizations. This bill also provides robust funding to improve servicemembers’ and their families’ quality of life and continues the fight against Russian aggression and emerging threats in the Middle East and North Africa. In short, this bill builds a stronger VA and military, and leaves no one behind. I will work to pass this vital bill and commit to ensuring our veterans and military families are protected, respected and supported and get the highest quality healthcare they deserve.”

“This bill honors our commitment to the men and women in our armed services, to our veterans, and to military families, who sacrifice every day for our nation,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. “With robust emergency funding to address the rising cost of veterans’ health care, we will ensure that those who served receive the care they have earned. Critically, the bill will prevent President Trump from stealing any more appropriated funds from urgently needed military infrastructure projects to pay for his wasteful border wall. Our military families and veterans deserve our respect, not the shabby treatment they have gotten from this administration.”


A summary of the draft fiscal year 2021 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is below. The full text of the bill is here. The subcommittee markup will be webcast live and linked from https://appropriations.house.gov/events/markups.

Bill Summary:

Military Construction – The bill provides a total of $10.1 billion, not including overseas contingency operations funding, for military construction – $1.2 billion below the 2020 enacted level and $2.3 billion above the President’s budget request. Of this amount, the bill includes:

  • $1.49 billion for Family Housing, an increase of $22 million above the 2020 enacted level and $135 million above the President’s budget request. Within this amount, Family Housing Support and Management is funded at $135 million to address issues such as mold, vermin, and lead in military family housing. The President’s budget does not include funding for this program.
     
  • $596 million for construction or alteration of Guard and Reserve facilities in states and territories, an increase of $45 million above the 2020 enacted level and $28 million above the President’s budget request.
     
  • $173 million for the NATO Security Investment Program, an increase of $1 million above the 2020 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request, for infrastructure necessary for wartime, crisis, and peace support and deterrence operations, and training requirements. The funds will support responses to the challenges posed by Russian aggression as well as the risks and threats emanating from the Middle East and North Africa.
     
  • $581 million for Base Realignment and Closure, an increase of $182 million above the 2020 enacted level and $280 million above the President’s budget request. Within this amount, cleanup of Perfluorooctane Sulfanate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid contamination is funded at $200 million. 

Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) – The bill provides an additional $350 million for military construction projects in countries with ongoing U.S. operations and the European Deterrence Initiative to combat Russian aggression. These funds will support the construction of facilities to enable our military to fight current and emerging threats, to support increased troop levels, and to sustain services for military families. This includes operational facilities, training facilities, hospitals, family housing, National Guard readiness centers, barracks, and other important resources.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – The bill provides a total of $104.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for VA, an increase of $12.3 billion above the 2020 enacted level and $35 million below the President’s budget request. These resources will serve to expand access to services for Veterans and will boost oversight and accountability across the department. Of this amount, the bill includes:

  • $90.0 billion for Veterans Medical Care, an increase of $9.8 billion above the 2020 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request. Of this amount:
     
    • $10.3 billion for Mental Healthcare, an increase of $865 million above the 2020 enacted level and $40 million above the President’s budget request, including $313 million for suicide prevention outreach.
    • $661 million for Gender-specific Care for Women, an increase of $76 million above the 2020 enacted level and $35 million above the President’s budget request.
    • $1.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Programs, an increase of $81 million above the 2020 enacted level and $40 million above the President’s budget request.
    • $504 million for Opioid Abuse Prevention, an increase of $102 million above the 2020 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request.
    • $300 million for Rural Health Initiatives, equal to the 2020 enacted level and $30 million above the President’s budget request.
    • $84 million for Whole Health Initiatives, an increase of $20 million above the 2020 enacted level and $20 million above the President’s budget request.
    • Additionally, the bill includes $94.2 billion in advance fiscal year 2022 funding for Veterans’ medical programs – equal to the President’s budget request. This funding will provide for medical services, medical community care, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities, and ensure that our Veterans have continued, full access to their medical care needs.
       
  • $840 million for Medical and Prosthetic Research, an increase of $40 million above the 2020 enacted level and $53 million above the President’s budget request.
     
  • $2.6 billion to continue implementation of the VA Electronic Health Record System, an increase of $1.1 billion above the 2020 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request. The bill also continues GAO oversight of this program to ensure that the EHR system is implemented in a timely manner.
     
  • $1.8 billion for VA Construction, an increase of $139 million above the 2020 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request. Within this amount, $1.4 billion is for Major Construction and $400 million is for Minor Construction.
     
  • $3.2 billion for operating expenses of the Veterans Benefit Administration, an increase of $62 million above the 2020 enacted level, to ensure the prompt processing of disability claims. The bill also continues rigorous reporting requirements to track each regional office’s performance on claims processing and appeals backlogs.
     
    • Additionally, the bill includes $145.3 billion in advance mandatory funding for VA benefit programs, equal to the President's budget request.
       
  • Within the total for the Department of Veterans Affairs, to respond to sharply rising costs in Veterans health care, the bill provides $12.5 billion in emergency spending. This funding supports the following:
     
    • Medical Services
    • Medical Community Care
    • Medical Support and Compliance
    • Medical Facilities
    • Veterans Electronic Health Record
    • Information Technology Systems

Related Agencies – The bill provides a total of $276 million in discretionary appropriations for related agencies, an increase of $500,000 above the 2020 enacted level and $21 million above the President’s budget request. Of this amount, the bill includes:

  • $81.8 million for Arlington National Cemetery, an increase of $1 million above the 2020 enacted level and $11 million above the President’s budget request.
     
  • $84.1 million for the American Battle Monuments Commission, equal to the fiscal year 2020 enacted level and $9 million more than the President’s budget request.
     
  • $73.1 million for the Armed Forces Retirement Home, $2.2 million below the 2020 enacted level and $2.8 million above the President’s budget request. 

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116th Congress