WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15), Chairman of the House Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MCVA) Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement in response to last night’s House passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 MCVA Appropriations Act. The bill was included as part of H.R. 5325, the Continuing Resolution (CR) funding bill that was passed by bipartisan votes in the House and Senate last night and is expected to be signed into law today.

“Our servicemen and women have dedicated their lives to the protection of the American people, and I am committed to providing them with the care and benefits that they have earned,” Dent said. “This bipartisan appropriations bill will give our troops, veterans, and military families the peace of mind they deserve. The bill also provides a 4% increase in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in order to maintain a high quality of care for the VA’s services and benefits. Additionally, this bill will take steps to enhance oversight within the VA to address the mismanagement that has plagued VA facilities for far too long. Finally, this bill addresses needs both here in Pennsylvania—including a $20 million investment at Fort Indiantown Gap for a security access perimeter—and abroad, including funds for the European Reassurance Initiative and the NATO Security Investment Program.” 

In total, H.R. 5325 provides $82.5 billion in funding for military construction, VA, and related agency programs, which is an increase of $2.6 billion above last year’s levels. The bill covers expenditures for domestic and international military construction and family housing projects, prohibits the closure of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and VA health care priorities such as Hepatitis C treatments, long-term care, support services for caregivers of veterans, and the distressing issue of veteran homelessness.

“One of my primary responsibilities in Congress is ensuring that we are providing the resources and assurances that our armed forces, our veterans, and our families both at home in Pennsylvania and stationed around the world depend on. I applaud the bipartisan effort that allowed this bill to be signed into law and provide for those who have served, and continue to serve selflessly in defense of our great nation.” 

In addition to the Military Construction and VA provisions, H.R. 5325 also provides $1.1 billion for domestic and international efforts to fight the spread of Zika, and funds other government operations through December 9, 2016. A portion of the Zika funds will be made available for research and development activities, such as the rapid Zika tests that OraSure in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is currently developing. 

Speaking on the bill’s Zika provisions, Rep. Dent noted, “I’m glad that a bipartisan consensus was reached to provide the funding necessary to combat, contain, and ultimately treat Zika. The Zika epidemic has unfortunately created an environment of fear and uncertainty for families, young couples, and communities across our country. This bill will provide crucial funding for those working on the front lines to research, prevent, and cure this debilitating virus.”

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CONTACT: Emily Rauch (202) 225-6411