Chair DeLauro Statement at Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2022 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2021-06-30 17:56

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2022 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill:

Thank you, Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz and Ranking Member Carter, for your work on this bill.

On a personal note, Debbie, I know this has been a very difficult couple of weeks for you and your constituents. We all express our condolences for the lives lost and for those missing in the Surfside building collapse. Our hearts are heavy for the hundreds of families affected by what is an unspeakable tragedy. We are standing with you and with them – please know that.

Turning to the bill before us, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee has held 12 hearings this year on everything from repairing military housing and improving quality of life, to remediating PFAS substances contamination and building military and VA infrastructure that is resilient to the growing effects of climate change, to responding to COVID-19 and investing in health care and benefits for our veterans.

And it is through this important work that you have produced this bill, which honors our commitment to our veterans, our servicemembers, and their families. By providing an overall discretionary increase of $11.4 billion above 2021, this bill supports our veterans, rebuilds infrastructure that serves military families, and protects our national security with important global investments.

With $97.6 billion for Veterans Medical Care, an increase of $7.6 billion above last year, this legislation supports the unique health needs of America’s veterans. This includes specialized health programs, with $13.2 billion dedicated to mental health care – which includes $599 million for suicide prevention outreach, so critical – $778.5 million for gender-specific care for women and $2.2 billion for homelessness assistance programs.

As we support those who have served, it is also our obligation to improve the quality of life of those who wear the uniform today. In that vein, I am proud that this bill also provides $1.423 billion for military family housing, helping to address issues such as mold, vermin and lead. It is appalling to me that anyone serving our country lives in squalid conditions. This bill will also ensure the children of these service members are getting the support they need as well, which is why I am grateful that this bill includes $213 million for Child Development Centers.

To ensure that our facilities meet today’s needs, I am also proud that this bill includes $2.2 billion for VA Construction projects to repair and retrofit Veterans Affairs facilities. And, to protect our security, the $205.8 million in the bill for the NATO Security Investment Program will be instrumental in responding to the challenges posed by Russian and Chinese aggression.

Finally, with $100 million for Climate Change and Resiliency Projects, and $162.9 million for Natural Disaster Recovery Construction, this legislation takes a bold step forward to confront the climate crisis and help military installations adapt to rising sea levels and worsening natural disasters. And again, efforts to clean up our contaminated facilities with the focus on remediating PFAS are extraordinary.

These crucial investments in our veterans, servicemembers, and their families will make a real difference. I urge your support, and again say thank you to Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz and Ranking Member Carter, the Subcommittee, the full Committee, and the personal staffs for their work on this bill.

117th Congress