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

2021-06-25 09:42

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 2022 bill:

Thank you, Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz and Ranking Member Carter, for your work on this bill. First off, I want to express my sympathies to your constituents and to you. You are in the right place at what is an incredible time, so our thoughts, our prayers, are with you and with your constituents. The unveiling story, hour by hour, just demonstrates the catastrophe in your community. And so thank you for joining here this morning, but as I said, you are in the right place, and please know that we are with you.

I also want to comment on the bill. I think it is just demonstrable in terms of the relationship between you and the Ranking Member Carter, and how thoughtful it is, how robust it is in terms of meeting the needs of both our veterans and of military construction. So I applaud the two of you for your dedication and your work together.

I also want to just say, as you pointed out Madam Chair, this is a subcommittee bill, and so to the members of the subcommittee on both sides of the aisle, I am grateful for your input in really crafting this outstanding piece of legislation and, as always, I’m delighted to be here with the Ranking Member of the full committee, Congresswoman Granger, in partnership with her as well.

Our nation’s service members, military families, and veterans sacrifice so much for us. In turn we owe it to them to ensure they receive the resources they deserve and the services they need. With an overall discretionary increase of $11.4 billion above 2021, the fiscal year 2022 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill upholds our commitment to servicemembers, veterans, and their families and rebuilds the infrastructure that serves military families and veterans. Within the military construction portion of the bill, the legislation also protects global democracy with important investments in military facilities.

This legislation supports our veterans by providing $97.6 billion for Veterans Medical Care, which represents an increase of $7.6 billion above last year. To address specific, critical needs, it includes $13.2 billion for Mental Healthcare, including $599 million for suicide prevention outreach, $778.5 million for Gender-specific Care for Women and $2.2 billion for homelessness assistance programs.

For far too long facilities that house military families and serve veterans have been allowed to fall apart or otherwise become no longer fit for purpose. This legislation reverses those trends and rebuilds our infrastructure with $2.2 billion for VA Construction projects to repair and retrofit Veterans Affairs facilities, $1.423 billion for military family housing, helping to address issues such as mold, vermin, and lead, and $213 million for Child Development Centers to support the families of service members.

To further protect our national security, this bill provides $205.8 million for the NATO Security Investment Program. This funding will be instrumental in responding to the challenges posed by Russian aggression as well as the risks and threats emanating from the Middle East and from North Africa.

Finally, with $100 million for Climate Change and Resiliency Projects, and $162.9 million for Natural Disaster Recovery Construction, this legislation confronts the climate crisis and helps military installations adapt to rising sea levels and worsening natural disasters. I also applaud the efforts to clean up our contaminated facilities with the focus on PFAS.

These investments in our servicemembers, veterans, and families, as well as in our nation’s infrastructure and climate resiliency, honor the sacrifices of those who wear or who have worn the uniform and will ensure our nation is prepared for future challenges. 

I look forward to continuing to work with you as we move to full committee consideration and I urge support for this legislation. And a final note is I, too, want to say congratulations and thank you to the staff which makes this all happen. It’s not alchemy, it is because of your hard work that this bill is produced. Thank you, and I yield back.

117th Congress