(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Chairman Charlie Dent (PA-15) and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs heard testimony from Robert A. McDonald, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). President Obama appointed Secretary McDonald to head the VA in July of 2014. This was his first appearance before the subcommittee to lay out the VA’s budget requests.
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee is responsible for providing funding for all military construction projects – such as housing and infrastructure on our bases – and, importantly, for funding the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Chairman Dent empathized with Secretary McDonald during his opening statement. “You come before us at a challenging time for the VA. You are trying to recover from the wait list scandal and implement the complex new [Veterans] Choice legislation. And, you are trying to bring about a transformation of the agency to make it more veteran service-centric,” Dent told the Secretary.
“The subcommittee welcomes the opportunity to learn about your vision for addressing the VA’s problems and reforming the department so that we are sure we are giving all veterans who want to use the VA the services they deserve,” Dent told McDonald.
Dent did note that the VA’s request for “an enormous ($5.1 billion – 7.8%) increase” in the Department’s discretionary budget would be difficult to fund under the constraints of the Budget Control Act.
Chairman Dent concluded his opening remarks by praising the VA’s workers. “You have a lot of great employees out there,” Dent said. “When I visit VA facilities, I’m always impressed.”
Also testifying before the Subcommittee: