(Washington, D.C.) Tonight, the House passed, by a bipartisan vote of 255 to 163, H.R. 2029, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016.
H.R. 2029 funds the benefits and programs that serve over 48 million veterans, family members, and survivors. The bill also provides the necessary funding for housing, training and equipping America’s service members and their families and supports our military’s global readiness and national security priorities
“This bill demonstrates our firm commitment to fully supporting the nation’s veterans and service members,” said Chairman Dent. “Our investment of nearly $77 billion for Military Construction and VA, 6 percent over last year’s level, is unprecedented. This bill provides comprehensive support for service members, military families, and veterans,” continued Dent, who managed the bill’s passage on the House floor.
The bill sets total discretionary spending at $76.6 billion of which $68.7 billion is dedicated to the Veterans Administration. Total funding is $4.6 billion higher than in FY 2015. VA funding was increased by 5.6%.
$48.6 billion of the VA funding is specifically dedicated to providing medical services to nearly seven million veterans. Spending on medical services in the FY 2016 bill was hiked by $3.4 billion over last year’s levels.
“This increase will help provide for those veterans with traumatic brain injuries, address the concerning veteran suicide and homelessness rates, and speed up the processing of claims,” said Chairman Dent.
The bill also increases funding for the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) and implements further actions within the VA designed to address the need for greater oversight and investigation into the instances of wait time manipulation and other schemes that have resulted in poor service to the nation’s veterans. Dent cited the recent VA OIG report detailing the immense failures of the Philadelphia Veterans Regional Office, the catastrophic failure in patient care at the Phoenix VA Hospital and the mind-boggling $1.7 billion construction cost at the Denver VA Hospital as reasons why increased oversight and investigatory funding were absolutely necessary.
Chairman Dent pointed to the bill’s passage as a sign of the bipartisan commitment in Congress to caring for America’s soldiers and veterans. “This bill came about because men and women of both parties put politics aside to care for our veterans, our active duty service members and their families. I can’t thank Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-2), the subcommittee’s Ranking Member, enough for his help and guidance during this process,” said Dent.
“We put together an excellent bill. One that is worthy of the men and women who sacrifice every day and those who have sacrificed for their country,” said Chairman Dent.
Representative Dent also serves as the Chairman of the House Ethics Committee. He represents Pennsylvania’s 15th District which includes all or parts of Berks, Dauphin, Lebanon, Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490