Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD), Chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (VA) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today announced that the Senate has unanimously passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill for FY2010. Johnson placed a strong emphasis on addressing the needs of rural and homeless veterans.
Chairman Johnson included $23.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2010 funding for military construction and family housing, and $109 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) including $55.8 billion for mandatory spending and $53.2 billion in discretionary appropriations. For the first time, the legislation also includes advance appropriations for VA medical care accounts for Fiscal Year 2011.
“I am pleased that the Senate has passed this strong, bipartisan bill to help our men and women in the military and address the needs of our nation’s veterans,” said Johnson. “This spending measure fulfills our nation’s promise by providing our vets with the resources they need for medical care and the benefits they have earned. I am especially proud that this bill puts in place advance funding for the 2011 Fiscal Year to ensure VA funding does not fall victim to shortfalls or delays.”
The bill also provides $3.2 billion for health care and support services for homeless veterans, including $500 million in direct programs to assist homeless veterans. Johnson included $50 million specifically for the VA to renovate unused, empty buildings on VA campuses to provide housing with supportive services, including rehabilitation and counseling, for homeless veterans. This is to lend further support to Secretary Shinseki’s goal of ending vets’ homelessness in five years.
Johnson continued to fight for the needs of veterans in rural areas by including additional funding for a Rural Clinic Initiative. This follows incorporation of Johnson’s Rural Health Care Initiative as part of President Obama’s budget request earlier this year.
SENATE MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES
FY 2010 APPROPRIATIONS BILL
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010, S. 1407, would provide $133.9 billion for military construction, military family housing, and veterans’ affairs programs for Fiscal Year 2010, including $76.7 billion in discretionary funding and $1.4 billion in funding for overseas contingency operations. Total discretionary funding in the bill, including overseas contingency funding, is $2.5 billion above the Fiscal Year 2009 enacted level, excluding $4.5 billion in stimulus and emergency funding. The bill is $429.1 million above the President’s budget request.
The bill would provide a total of $109 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including $53.2 billion in discretionary funding, to meet the growing needs of our nation’s veterans, improve VA services and facilities, and provide for the emerging and long term needs of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including critical programs for research and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The vast majority of the discretionary funding – $44.7 billion – is provided for the Medical Care accounts for Fiscal Year 2010, which represents an increase of $4.2 billion over last year’s funding level, excluding stimulus.
For the first time, the bill includes advance appropriations to fund medical programs for the Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for veterans. S. 1407 would provide a total of $48.2 billion for VA Medical Services, Medical Support and Compliance, and Medical Facilities for Fiscal Year 2011.
In addition, S. 1407 would provide $23.2 billion for military construction and family housing for Fiscal Year 2010 to support America’s military forces and military families at home and overseas. This funding level is $1.9 billion below the Fiscal Year 2009 level, excluding stimulus, and $286.3 million above the President’s budget request. The funding includes $7.9 billion allocated for base realignment and closure activities (BRAC); $373 million for the expansion of mortgage relief to military families; and $225 million for energy efficiency and energy security initiatives at U.S. military facilities. The remainder of the proposed funding supports the construction of mission critical and quality of life facilities, including family housing, barracks, and child care centers.