(Washington, D.C.) Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2017 issued the following statement upon passage of the conference report.

“This bill provides critical assurances, resources, and accountability for our veterans, our troops, military families and the American people.  It also makes a strong investment to help prevent the spread of Zika and provide agencies like the CDC and NIH with the assistance needed to begin treating affected communities across the country”

“As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, I worked to ensure that the needs of our nation’s veterans are being fully met. That is why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is provided with an unprecedented level of funding – a 4% increase – in order to ensure that the approximately 7 million patients that will be treated by the VA in the coming year are able to receive the quality of care that they deserve and to expedite the processing of both disability claims and claims appeals.  Importantly, this funding is pivotal to allowing the VA to proactively address many of their current and growing issues while simultaneously providing increased access to care to our veterans and their dependents.  The bill matches these resources with increased oversight mechanisms and whistleblower protections to counter the disturbing trend of mismanagement, wasteful spending, and inefficiency that have become far too common within VA facilities.”

“I’m also proud of the emphasis this bill puts on providing for our military families and national security priorities.  It addresses needs both here in Pennsylvania – including a $20 million investment at Fort Indiantown Gap (FIG) for a security access perimeter – and abroad – including funds for the European Reassurance Initiative and the NATO Security Investment Program – that are needed to maintain global vigilance.  It will also sustain quality housing for over 1.3 million military families and support care for 9.8 million troops and families at military medical facilities.  Further, the bill helps keep our communities safer by prohibiting funds from going toward the closure of Guantanamo Bay or toward the construction of any facilities within the United States to hold Guantanamo detainees.

“The bill also provides $1.1 billion in critical funding for domestic and international efforts to fight the spread of the Zika virus.  This funding, coupled with the $589 million the Administration already transferred, brings the total Zika funding level to nearly $1.7 billion – just shy of the full amount the President had initially requested.  Of this funding, $85 million is made available for research and development activities, including deployment of new diagnostic tests, that companies like OraSure Technologies located in the Lehigh Valley are developing.

“It is my hope that, in light of the growing Zika threat and the need to provide our Veterans and military families with the support they need, the Senate will act swiftly in passing this important bill and sending it to the President’s desk.”

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CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490