Appropriations bill boosts funding for VA, military construction

House appropriators unveiled legislation that provides $76.6 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal 2016.

The bill, released April 14 by the House Appropriations Committee, includes funding to house, train, and equip military personnel; provide housing and services to military families; and maintain base infrastructure, as well as fund veterans benefits and programs.

While the bill provides $4.6 billion more funding than in fiscal 2015, it is $1.2 billion below the president’s fiscal 2016 budget request.

The panel said the hike was necessary to pay for growing VA health care needs, among other things. The increase boosts VA funding by 5.6 percent over fiscal 2015 levels, providing $68.7 billion in discretionary funding, including increases for health care, benefit claims processing, the Board of Veterans Appeals, medical and prosthetics research, and information technology. The legislation includes a total of $163.2 billion in combined discretionary and mandatory funding for VA.

The bill also increases military construction funding by $904 million over the fiscal 2015 level to $7.7 billion, and will pay for military family housing, hospital and health facility construction, as well overseas investments.

“This bill ensures that our nation's veterans, servicemen and women, and their families have the benefits and resources they richly deserve," Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement . "It provides funding for essential construction projects to advance the effectiveness of our missions, allows military families access to the services they need every day, and goes above and beyond to ensure proper and timely benefits for our veterans. This legislation does the right thing in the right way, and I hope and expect it can move quickly through the legislative process."

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