07.10.20

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Releases Statement on Fiscal Year 2021 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), member of the House Appropriations Committee, released a statement following the approval of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The legislation increases discretionary funding by $5.1 billion above the enacted 2020 level, upholding our commitment to servicemembers, Veterans, and military families; legislation also includes $12.5 billion in emergency spending for VA to address rising cost of Veterans’ health care. 

 “This year’s Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bill invests strongly in military families and their health care,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This bill is a reflection of congressional priorities to support the families of our courageous servicemembers and rebukes Trump’s consistent attempts at stealing from other programs to fund a wasteful, ineffective wall at the southern border. 

 “Especially amidst a public health emergency, we must bolster resources for the VA medical system, invest in programs for women veterans, and invest in mental health, suicide and homeless prevention services, and fund medical research to improve the lives of veterans suffering from chronic illness following their service.  

“I am particularly pleased that we were able to secure nearly $153 million for the construction of a state-of-the-art VA Outpatient Clinic and National Cemetery in Alameda Point, in my congressional district. This facility will provide and improve services for almost 300,000 veterans in the Bay Area.

“Additionally, I am pleased we secured a provision that prohibits funds for military construction projects located on military bases named after confederate officers, unless there is a process in place to replace those names. There is a great need in this country to address systemic racism and its lingering destructive impacts. There’s no place for figures of hate to be honored on our military bases. This legislation is not only a win for our nation’s bravest and their families, but also a win for those looking to honor them long after they return home.” 

Bill Summary: 

Military Construction –The bill provides a total of $10.1 billion, not including overseas contingency operations funding, for military construction – $1.2 billion below the 2020 enacted level and $2.3 billion above the President’s budget request. Of this amount, the bill includes: 

  • $1.49 billion for Family Housing, an increase of $22 million above the 2020 enacted level and $135 million above the President’s budget request. Within this amount, Family Housing Support and Management is funded at $135 million to address issues such as mold, vermin, and lead in military family housing. The President’s budget does not include funding for this program. 
  • $596 million for construction or alteration of Guard and Reserve facilities in states and territories, an increase of $45 million above the 2020 enacted level and $28 million above the President’s budget request. 
  • $581 million for Base Realignment and Closure, an increase of $182 million above the 2020 enacted level and $280 million above the President’s budget request. Within this amount, cleanup of Perfluorooctane Sulfanate and Perfluorooctanoic Acid contamination is funded at $200 million.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) –The bill provides a total of $104.8 billion in discretionary appropriations for VA, an increase of $12.3 billion above the 2020 enacted level and $35 million below the President’s budget request. These resources will serve to expand access to services for Veterans and will boost oversight and accountability across the department. Of this amount, the bill includes: 

  • $90.0 billion for Veterans Medical Care, an increase of $9.8 billion above the 2020 enacted level and equal to the President’s budget request. Of this amount: 
    • $10.3 billion for Mental Healthcare, an increase of $865 million above the 2020 enacted level and $40 million above the President’s budget request, including $313 million for suicide prevention outreach.
    • $661 million for Gender-specific Care for Women, an increase of $76 million above the 2020 enacted level and $35 million above the President’s budget request. 
    • $1.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Programs, an increase of $81 million above the 2020 enacted level and $40 million above the President’s budget request. 
    • Additionally, the bill includes $94.2 billion in advance fiscal year 2022 funding for Veterans’ medical programs – equal to the President’s budget request. This funding will provide for medical services, medical community care, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities, and ensure that our Veterans have continued, full access to their medical care needs. 
  • $840 million for Medical and Prosthetic Research, an increase of $40 million above the 2020 enacted level and $53 million above the President’s budget request. 
  • $3.2 billion for operating expenses of the Veterans Benefit Administration, an increase of $62 million above the 2020 enacted level, to ensure the prompt processing of disability claims. The bill also continues rigorous reporting requirements to track each regional office’s performance on claims processing and appeals backlogs. 
  • Within the total for the Department of Veterans Affairs, to respond to sharply rising costs in Veterans health care, the bill provides $12.5 billion in emergency spending. This funding supports the following: 
    • $10.3 billion for Mental Healthcare, an increase of $865 million above the 2020 enacted level and $40 million above the President’s budget request, including $313 million for suicide prevention outreach.
    • Medical Community Care 
    • Medical Support and Compliance 
    • Medical Facilities 
    • Veterans Electronic Health Record 
    • Information Technology Systems 

The full text of the bill is here. The bill report is here.