Rep. Culberson’s Statement on the FY 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

The House Appropriations Committee will be considering the fiscal year 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. The bill provides funding to ensure that our military and our veterans have the resources that they need. The full committee markup is scheduled to begin at 11AM Eastern, and can be viewed online.

The bill includes $73.3 billion in discretionary funding, continuing our longstanding tradition of bipartisan support of our military, our veterans, and their families. However, despite years of providing substantial increases to the Department of Veterans Affairs, funds have languished as a result of construction delays, the claims backlog grows at an astounding rate, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are, once again, back to square one in the development of a joint electronic health record. So the bill also sends a clear message that this state of affairs is unacceptable – and that our veterans deserve to receive the benefits that they need and have earned in a timely, efficient manner. Therefore, while this bill continues to support these activities, it also increases oversight of them. Funding is no longer provided without expiration for VA construction – bid savings must be reported and project scope changes are prohibited, aggressive monthly reporting from each regional office is required to monitor progress on the disability claims backlog, and bill language has been included to restrict IT funding until the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs select one single integrated electronic health record.

Our war fighters should not have the added burden of concerns over the quality of life that their families experience while they are away. So this bill fully funds the budget request for school construction and the family housing program. However, particularly now, as our debt continues to grow at a deplorable rate, we must rigorously review all activities that our government funds. Therefore, this bill does not include funding for ten military construction projects that lacked sufficient justification, reduces funding for six projects, and rescinds $584 million in prior year funding.

For the text of the FY 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill and report, please visit:

Bill: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-fc-ap-fy2014-ap00-milcon.pdf

Committee Report: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-milcon-report.pdf

For a summary of the bill, please click here.

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