Chairman Rogers Opening Statement on FY 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill for Subcommittee Markup

May 8, 2012

I thank Chairman Culberson for yielding, and I congratulate him and Ranking Member Bishop on producing a bipartisan fiscal year 2013 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The Chairmen, Ranking Member, and staff have worked tirelessly to bring this important legislation before the subcommittee today. 

This appropriations bill addresses the most urgent needs of our Nation’s veterans, as well as the construction priorities across the Department of Defense, while also recognizing the need to constrain federal spending as the country wrestles with large deficits. The Subcommittee carefully went line-by-line, taking the difficult but responsible steps to trim excess spending wherever possible and rescind unobligated balances. The bill also requires strong oversight over spending to ensure that the American people, our troops, and our veterans are getting the greatest value from each and every precious tax dollar.

The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is funded at the same level as fiscal year 2012 at $71.7 billion. However, funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is $2.3 billion more than FY12, and Military Construction has been reduced by $2.4 billion, reflecting Department of Defense decisions to reduce construction activities while they assess future force strength. 

Specifically, the bill funds the construction of Department of Defense hospitals, clinics, schools, and family housing. It provides our military personnel with the resources to effectively advance US missions abroad, while giving them the support they need here at home. The bill also protects the health and well-being of our veterans by preserving medical care appropriations and providing mandatory funding for disability and education benefits.  After serving our country with honor, it is imperative that we continue to provide these brave men and women with the services they need and deserve.

I urge the subcommittee to promptly report this bill to the full Committee.