Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, today addressed the full Senate Appropriations Committee before it passed the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act by a vote of 30-0. The legislation Johnson wrote now moves to the full Senate for approval. A copy of his remarks as prepared for delivery is below.
Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman Cochran, I am pleased to recommend the FY 13 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill to the Full Committee.
This bill sends a strong message of support to our Nation’s veterans, and to our military troops and their families. We all know the sacrifices they have made, and are continuing to make, in defense of our Nation. The bill before us recognizes and honors that commitment by funding a wide array of programs essential to the health and well being of both veterans and military families.
Including previously appropriated advances for veterans medical care, the FY13 bill provides a total of $146.6 billion for military construction and family housing, the VA, and four related agencies, including Arlington National Cemetery.
$74.6 billion of the total is mandatory funding for veterans benefits, and $71.9 billion is discretionary. The bill also includes $54.5 billion in FY 14 advances for veterans medical care.
This is a disciplined and responsible bill. It is $465.9 million below the request. Within that amount, the bill fully funds the President’s request for veterans benefits and health care, and it provides the necessary funding for military construction, family housing and the independent agencies.
I regret that my Ranking Member, Senator Kirk, cannot be present at this markup, but I can assure my colleagues that he is in our thoughts, and that Senator Kirk and his staff were very engaged in the development of the bill. I am hopeful that he will be able to return to the Senate soon.
This bill could not have been completed without the hard work and close cooperation of the staff of the subcommittee, including Tina Evans, Chad Schulken, and Michael Bain of the majority staff and Dennis Balkham and D’Ann Lettieri of the minority staff. I would also like to thank the Full Committee staff, including Jack Conway, Bob Putnam, and Reggie Stewart.
Mr. Chairman, this is a bipartisan, balanced, and fiscally responsible bill. It funds the buildings that our military families work and live in, and it keeps the promises we have made to the Nation’s veterans. I urge the Committee to approve the bill.