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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Passed May 19th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 295 Yea / 129 Nay
      house Committees
      House Committee on Appropriations
    IntroducedApril 15th, 2016

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What is it?

This bill would authorize $81.6 billion in funding for military construction projects, training and equipping members of the military, housing their families, and funding veterans’ benefits and programs through the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA). That represents an increase of over $1.8 billion from the 2016 fiscal year, although it is $1.2 billion less than the president’s request.

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION

A total of $7.9 billion would be made available for military construction projects, which is a decrease of $305 million from fiscal year 2016 but $250 more than the president’s request. This funding would go to large and small construction or renovation projects at military bases within the U.S. and around the world. $172 million of this funding would be focused on Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and European Reassurance Initiative projects involving overseas bases.

Military Family Housing​

$1.3 billion would fund the construction, operation, and maintenance of military family housing for fiscal year 2017, which meets the president’s budget request but is $84 million less than the previous year. There are currently 1,388,028 military families that are served by this program.

Military Medical Facilities​

This section provides $304 million for the construction and alteration for new or existing military medical facilities, matching the president’s budget request but decreasing funding by $303 million from the prior year. A total of 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries are or can be served by these facilities.

​NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP)​

The NSIP would see its funding rise by $43 million from fiscal year 2016 to a level of $178 million, matching the president’s budget request. This program funds infrastructure needed for wartime and crisis activities, peacekeeping support, deterrence operations, and training for NATO as it confronts challenges from Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Guantanamo Bay​

The closure of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station would be prohibited by this legislation, in addition to blocking funding for any facility within the U.S. that would house detainees.

Miscellaneous

$673 million would go to construction at National Guard and Reserve facilities in 21 states, an increase of $122 million from the 2016 fiscal year. Another $246 million would go to safety improvements and infrastructure work at four Dept. of Defense (DOD) Education Activities facilities located in the U.S. and overseas.


VETERANS AFFAIRS (VA)

This bill authorizes a total of $176.1 billion in both discretionary and mandatory spending at the VA, which is $13.4 billion more than fiscal year 2016. Of that total, this bill breaks down what the $73.5 billion in discretionary spending goes toward, which represents a $2.1 billion increase over the previous year. Part of that increase would be $850 million aimed at focusing on treating hepatitis C, long-term care for veterans, support services for veterans’ caregivers, and to fighting veteran homelessness.

​Oversight​

To prevent further mismanagement or wasteful spending at the VA and improve the care received by veterans, several oversight and accountability provisions are included in this bill. These include limiting transfers between construction projects, reports about bid savings, limiting changes to the scope of projects, and preventing certain spending without notifying Congress. Additionally, all Senior Executive Service Managers at the VA would be prohibited from receiving bonuses.

VA Medical Services​

$52.5 billion would go to VA medical services which would allow for about 7 million patients to be treated in fiscal year 2017. Some of this total would be spent in the following ways:

  • $7.8 billion for mental healthcare services;

  • $7.2 billion for homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training;

  • $284 million for traumatic brain injury treatment;

  • $250 million in rural veterans health programs;

  • $164 million in suicide prevention activities.

An additional $260 million would be made available for the modernization of the VA electronic health record system.

​Disability Claims Processing Backlog​

To address the backlog of processing disability claims, this legislation would provide for the following to be spent:

  • $180 million for the paperless claims processing system;

  • $153 million for health records to be digitally scanned;

  • $27 million for centralized mail.

$156 million would be provided to the Board of Veterans Appeals — a $46 million increase — to support the work of 242 new staff members dealing with claims appeals.

Construction​

This bill would match the president’s request of $900 million for major and minor VA construction projects.

VA Mandatory Funding​

The $102.6 billion in mandatory spending authorized by this bill would go to a number of different areas, including:

  • Veterans disability compensation to 4.8 million veterans and their survivors;

  • Education benefits through the GI Bill for nearly 1.1 million veterans;

  • Vocational rehabilitation and employment training for over 140,000 veterans.

​Advance Appropriations​

To ensure that veterans continue to have access to medical services, support, and facilities for their healthcare needs, this bill makes $66.4 billion in advance appropriations for fiscal year 2018, matching the president’s budget request. It also includes $103.9 billion in advance funding for VA mandatory benefits, which also matches the President’s request. It should be noted that of this year’s total funding, $63.3 billion was provided through advance appropriations.

Impact

Members of the military, their families, and veterans; the DOD and the VA.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) introduced this bill to ensure that the programs members of the military, their families, and veterans rely on are fully funded for the next fiscal year:

“It is imperative for our nation to uphold our obligation to care for our veterans, servicemembers, and military families.  This bill meets that promise by providing an unprecedented level of support for the services, projects, and programs that are relied on by our troops and the over 48 million veterans and veteran dependents served  by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  In these times of growing political divisiveness, it’s encouraging to see that vibrant bipartisan support can continue to thrive for those who have made tremendous personal sacrifices.”

While praising many aspects of this bill, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) criticized a provision denying bonuses to VA management because it doesn’t distinguish between high-quality executives in the same group as managers. Additionally, Rep. Lowey noted that attempts to fully fund the president’s request for the Zika virus have been blocked, and said that many of her Democratic colleagues would vote against this and other appropriations bills until Zika funding is provided.

This legislation was approved unanimously by the House Appropriations Committee.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Matthew Allen Hecht)

AKA

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017

Official Title

Making appropriations for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes.

    Yes! Let's takes care of our own instead of taking care of everyone else. Regarding Guantanamo, in light of recent events we may want to consider enlarging the facility.
    Like (11)
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    I'm a disabled veteran, and there's no way I would ever support a bill that makes it impossible to close the human rights violation that is Guantanamo...regardless of the benefits I would be missing out on
    Like (20)
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    I like the idea of assisting veterans but slipping in the provision of keep Guantanamo open is unacceptable.
    Like (13)
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    Why does the bill have to prevent the closing of Guantanamo? And can we divert the almost-$10 billion from building new military bases to VA care, specifically mental care and housing for homeless veterans?
    Like (7)
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    Spending measures for veterans have never been enough. Veterans with benefits have not seen a cost of living increase in two years, which only promotes the risk of homelessness. Therefore this should not be voted down because VA administrators are not getting a raise, vets come first not VA admin. Furthermore spending to fight the Zika virus should not be added to this bill, keep the focus on our vets.
    Like (7)
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    While there's several items to celebrate in this bill, it does not address many, critical issues. This bill still does nothing to: optimize or prioritize veterans' treatment (through the VA or Choice systems); underestimates & underfunds both the time & cost of streamlining the disability & claims process; it ties the hands of the VA with excessive oversight & mandatory expenditures; doesn't allow CBD, THC or other, more effective treatments for PTSD & trauma mitigation; and, finally, it interferes with both the President's & Armed Forces' ability to administer, maintain, upgrade &/or close military bases & other, related facilities (such as Guantanamo Bay & other, outdated bases). By not fully addressing & funding these issues, Congress is essentially disregarding innovation, penalizing veterans as well as to those trying to help &/or treat our veterans.
    Like (7)
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    Thank you for standing behind our men and women in the armed services protecting our freedom.
    Like (6)
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    The VA should get more. Our vets deserve a whole more then what they're getting now.
    Like (6)
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    Let's go for it. While the $81B won't protect sea lanes or keep Iranian missiles out of our skies, but it does support our military personnel and will keep a boot on the necks of VA Administrators. A tiny step in the right direction.
    Like (4)
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    Its About time!! Lets worry about our own for a change and leave the rest to fend for themselves! As a taxpayer I am sick pf seeing our veterans and their families doing without while we import and support potential enemies into the country with impunity and bend over backward trying to supply their every need! While those who have fought, been maimed in battle sit homeless and starving on the street!
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    The stupidest part of this bill is keeping Guantánamo Bay open. We have a fine high-security prison unused in the state of Illinois. There is room for the remaining prisoners. No federal employee should be getting bonuses. Most federal employees make a very fine salary, including their three hour martini lunch breaks.
    Like (3)
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    This bill is unfocused and the name, as is common, is misleading. Political equivalent to "click-bait" looking for legitimate issues with this bill? We can start with unnecessarily prohibiting the closure of Gitmo and go from there..
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    Ending VA bonuses is a good thing and no Piggy backing to get a bill that is dead passed!
    Like (3)
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    Better than what Obama has spent money on. and now we all know what he did.
    Like (3)
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    Keep the promise made to Our Veterans. No dollar is wasted that is spent on Our Veterans. This is up to and including PTSD Dogs and their Medical care, as Our Veterans are mostly on a fixed income. This is something they Need.
    Like (3)
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    Yes! Money well spent. No, strike that " invested!"
    Like (3)
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    The military is the reason that this country is the way it is, free. Without them, we would not be the United States. We are obligated to take care of them for what they sacrifice for this country.
    Like (2)
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    Was totally for it until I saw that it contains a provision to halt the closure of Guantanamo Bay.
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    Approving funds for the Zola virus has no place in this bill
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    Take care of those who took care of us. This is where I want my tax dollars going!
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