Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence Issues Statement on the Passage of the FY2020 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Funding Bill by the House Committee on Appropriations
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence issued the following statement on the House Committee on Appropriations’ announcement of approval for the Fiscal Year 2020 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) appropriations bill.
As the Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Women’s Caucus, Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence championed provisions related to women Veterans including report language focusing on the growing number of homeless women Veterans. Congresswoman Lawrence also submitted report language to ensure women Veterans have timely access to a full spectrum of integrated substance abuse treatment services, from detoxification to rehabilitation. Furthermore, while women are the fastest growing subgroup of Veterans, fewer women Veterans than men seek services and support from the Department of Veterans Affairs. That is why Congresswoman Lawrence secured report language expressing support for the expansion of the Veterans Affairs Women’s Health Transition Training Pilot Program and similar programs to better support the increasing numbers of women who leave the military and enter the Veterans Affairs support system.
“The Fiscal Year 2020 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill honors our commitment to service members, veterans, and thousands of military families who sacrifice every day on behalf of this great nation. Increased appropriations for military facilities and veterans’ care enhances readiness at home and around the world, and ensures that we keep our promise to care for those who have sacrificed in defense of our nation,” said Congresswoman Lawrence. “With over 26,000 veterans in the 14th Congressional District, I understand the importance of taking care of our veterans when they come home. I look forward to swift consideration of this bill by the full House of Representatives.”
Military Construction – The bill provides $10.5 billion for military construction projects, an increase of $207 million above the Fiscal Year 2019 enacted level.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – The legislation includes a total of $217.5 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding for VA, an increase of $20.3 billion above the Fiscal Year 2019 level. This funding will help address many of the problems currently facing VA and provide for better and increased access to care for our veterans.
- VA Medical Care – The bill funds VA medical care at $80.4 billion – providing for approximately seven million patients to be treated in fiscal year 2020. Within this total, funding includes: $9.4 billion in mental healthcare services; $222 million in suicide prevention outreach activities; $582 million for gender-specific care for women; $1.9 billion for homeless assistance programs; $397 million for opioid abuse prevention; and $270 million in rural health initiatives.
- VA Electronic Health Record – The bill contains $1.6 billion to continue implementation of the VA electronic health record system. This will ensure the implementation of the contract creating an electronic record system for VA that will be interoperable with the system being developed for the Department of Defense.
- Disability Claims Processing Backlog – This bill will help get veterans the decisions they are awaiting by providing $25 million above the request for the Veterans Benefits Administration for hiring additional claims and appellate staff, digital scanning of health records, and overtime pay. In addition, the bill continues rigorous reporting requirements to track each regional office’s performance on claims processing and appeals backlogs.
Oversight and Accountability – The legislation strengthens oversight and accountability at the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used fully to benefit our servicemembers and our veterans.