(Washington, DC) – Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (VA) and Related Agencies, released the following statement following the approval of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 spending bill. 

The Military Construction, VA and Related Agencies spending bill serves as the vehicle to provide FY 2016 funding for veterans care, meet the construction needs of the various military branches and to pay for the housing needs of military personnel.  Total FY 2016 discretionary funding for Veterans programs is $68.7 billion, $3.6 billion above fiscal year 2015. This includes $3 billion of advance funding.

“We make sure that our veteran health care system has the funding needed to keep our promise to care for those who have sacrificed in defense of this great nation.  We owe this to our veterans. We are all aware of the struggles and failures of the VA. That’s why we also provided funding to cover the cost of the oversight needed to make certain that programs deliver both for the veterans utilizing them and for the taxpayers funding them,” said Chairman Dent.

The bill provides a total of $7.6 billion for military construction projects and family housing, including base and Overseas Contingency Operations funding – an increase of $904 million above the enacted fiscal year 2015 level.

“This funding goes to support our troops with the facilities and services necessary to maintain readiness and morale at bases here in the states and around the world.  As an example, it provides for Defense Department schools and health clinics that take care of military families,” noted Dent.

The bill was reported unanimously out of the Subcommittee. “This is a very solid, bipartisan bill that is focused on the needs of servicemembers, veterans and all their families.  We have provided for them to the very best level we can,” concluded Dent.

WHAT’S IN THE BILL:

Veterans Affairs:  The legislation includes a total of $163.2 billion in combined discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Discretionary funding alone for Veterans programs in the bill is $68.7 billion.  Total fiscal year 2016 discretionary funding is $3.6 billion above fiscal year 2015. $3 billion of this increase was advance funded. 

-VA Medical Services –The bill funds VA medical services at $48.6 billion.  That includes $970 million that VA asked for on top of the advanced funding from last year. 

- For Disability Claims – provides the full request for the Veterans Benefits Administration, which is a $163 million increase over fiscal year 2015, and the full request for the Board of Veterans appeals.

- The bill will enhance transparency and accountability at the VA through further oversight and an increase for the VA Office of Inspector General’s independent audits and investigations

- This legislation also contains $233 million for the modernization of the VA Electronic Health Record and includes language restricting funding until the VA demonstrates progress on the system’s functionality and interoperability.

- On Construction issues, major construction within the VA is funded at $562 million, which is the same level as fiscal year 2015. The bill provides funding for hospital replacement and allows the VA to continue to correct seismic safety issues and deficiencies. The bill does not fund the more-than-double budget request for construction as we face the impact of gross mismanagement of the Colorado VA Hospital Construction, which resulted in a $930 million cost overrun.  It also cracks down on oversight.

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION: The bill provides a total of $7.6 billion for military construction project and family housing, including base and Overseas Contingency Operations funding – an increase of $904 million above the enacted fiscal year 2015 level

This funding meets DOD’s most critical needs, including priority projects for the Combatant Commanders in the EUCOM, CENTCOM, AFRICOM and PACOM.

- It provides $607 million for Military Medical Facilities.

- It provides $334 million for Department of Defense Education Facilities, for construction or renovation of ten schools.

- It supports our Guard and Reserve through $512 million for facilities in 28 states

- It fully funds Military Family Housing at $1.4 billion.

- And it provides $150 million for the NATO Security Investment Program, which is $30 million over the budget request

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CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490