Chair DeLauro Statement at Subcommittee Markup of Fiscal Year 2023 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2022-06-15 13:28

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's markup of its fiscal year 2023 bill:

Thank you, Chair Wasserman Schultz and Ranking Member Carter, for your commitment to the work of this Subcommittee. The Committee is looking at the strength of our support for our veterans and what we need to do with regard to military construction. And to the hard work of the two of you and to the subcommittee staff. And thank you for keeping our names on the door, we are very grateful to you.

Our veterans, our servicemembers, and their families have made immense sacrifices to protect and serve our nation. Really proud of the bill before us, with a discretionary increase of $23 billion, builds upon our achievements in the 2022 spending package, really making robust investments to those who protect our nation. They have earned this.

To best serve veterans, this bill makes critical investments, historic changes to veteran health care. For the first time ever, this bill separates VA Medical Care spending into its own category, apart from other defense and non-defense discretionary spending. That protects Veterans healthcare. It ensures it will not have to compete with other priorities. The $118.8 billion provided for veterans Medical Care upholds our commitment to our Nation’s veterans. The funding will provide enhanced mental health care, suicide prevention, and substance use disorder programs. In addition, the funding will advance women’s health and whole health initiatives and provide homelessness assistance to our veterans most in need.

It improves VA’s medical and prosthetic research capabilities, increases investments to fund about 2,700 projects and allow for partnerships with over 200 medical schools and academic institutions.

Furthermore, the bill increases funding for the operating expenses for the Veterans Benefits Administration to process increasing disability compensation claims and provide disability benefits to an estimated 5.5 million veterans and 500,000 survivors and dependents.

For VA construction the bill continues to address longstanding issues that will ensure veterans can access care in modern facilities that are safe, secure, sustainable, and accessible.

The bill improves the quality of life of our veterans, and we have a responsibility to support those who currently serve our nation simultaneously. This bill provides $15.1 billion for military construction to rebuild our military infrastructure and the facilities that house military families.

It has been mentioned – the $2.1 billion for Family Housing, ensuring our servicemembers and their families have access to safe and healthy housing, which includes addressing issues such as mold, vermin, and lead and by increasing oversight of military privatized housing.

In addition, the bill provides $274 million for Child Development Centers. We increase capacity and provide better facilities for the 1.2 million children of active duty servicemembers worldwide.

And as we support our servicemembers, we are recommitting ourselves to confronting the climate crisis at military facilities – increased funding for Climate Change and Resiliency Projects, we ensure military installations can adapt to rising sea levels and worsening natural disasters.

In that same vein, as efforts to clean up contaminated facilities are underway, we maintain the focus to remediate the PFAS contamination at former installations and the communities that surround them by providing record investments in targeted PFAS remediation.

Finally, this bill protects our national security with crucial investments globally. Over $220 million for the NATO Security Investment Program, a $4.3 million increase over last year, we fund the infrastructure to train and conduct wartime, crisis, and peace support and deterrence operations. This enhances our response to Russia’s aggression and its grievous and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation deserve the investments in quality care that this bill makes. So I am very proud that, taken together, the investments in this bill uphold our commitments to them.

I again thank the Chair and Ranking Member, the Members of the subcommittee, and all the staff. I urge support for this bill.

117th Congress