(Washington, D.C.)  Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies sent a letter to House members responding to efforts to undermine strong bipartisan support for the Fiscal Year 2016 Appropriations bill, H.R. 2029. The bill, that was voice voted by the full House Appropriations Committee last week, is scheduled to be debated on the House floor this Wednesday, April 29.

“It is important to get the facts out in response to this concerted effort undercutting a solid example of bipartisan legislative action,” said Dent regarding his decision to provide clarity on the bill’s provisions. “This bill sets aside an unprecedented amount of funds to meet the needs of our veterans. For anyone to claim otherwise, for them to attempt to deprive those who have served by derailing a bill that has long enjoyed overwhelming broad bipartisan support, is putting politics ahead of America’s veterans,” Dent concluded.

Text of Dear Colleague Letter:

Dear Colleague,

Let’s set the record straight on the tremendous support that H.R. 2029, the FY 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, provides to our veterans:

MYTH:  The MilCon-VA FY 2016 Appropriations bill “cuts” VA funding

REALITY:  The FY 2016 MilCon-VA Appropriations bill, H.R. 2029, provides a $3.6 billion INCREASE for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill totals $68.7 BILLION—5.6% above last year’s level –the highest level of VA funding ever.

MYTH:  The House bill cuts major construction projects

REALITY:  H.R. 2029 provides $562 million for major construction, the same as last year’s level.  Remember this is the same Department responsible for a $930 million cost overrun at the Denver VA hospital – a grossly mismanaged project that the VA has completely bungled.

MYTH:  The House bill cuts the “equivalent” of 70,000 veterans from receiving medical care

REALITY:  The House bill actually provides an increase of $3.8 billion for medical care, plus $4.0 billion for information technology investments to make that care even better.  In addition, Congress has also provided the VA $15 billion for health care through the Veterans Choice Act.   Bottom line: The VA has the resources and the flexibility to care for every qualified veteran at a VA facility or through private care.

MYTH:  More money is the answer to every management problem.

REALITY:  The VA itself admits to a “corrosive culture” which wastes energy, time and money and diverts attention away from the veteran.  This bill focuses resources on putting veterans care first and provides the much needed oversight functions that taxpayers deserve.

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Representative Dent serves Pennsylvania’s 15th District. The 15th includes all or parts of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh and Northampton counties. He serves as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. He also chairs the House Ethics Committee.

CONTACT:  Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490