Hoeven: Senate Passes Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

Legislation Provides Funding for Veterans Services, Supports NDNG Targeting Facility

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, today announced that the U.S. Senate has approved the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016. The legislation funds important military construction projects, including the North Dakota National Guard’s Intelligence Targeting Facility in Fargo, and provides strong funding for the nation’s veterans.

“Our veterans have served with honor and distinction and our nation owes it to them to provide them with the care they have earned,” said Hoeven. “This legislation provides strong funding to help provide better care for our veterans. The bill will also fund important construction projects, including military housing and medical facilities. In North Dakota, it will help support our National Guard’s targeting facility in Fargo. This legislation is good for our state and nation and helps us to keep our country’s promises to our veterans.”

The bill was approved today by a 93-0 vote.

Summary of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill 

The bill totals $79.7 billion in discretionary funding, $7.9 billion above the FY2015 level. For the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Senate bill includes $71.2 billion in discretionary funding, $6.2 billion over last year’s level. This includes $50.7 billion for VA medical services. For military construction, the bill contains $8.25 billion, $1.7 billion above last year’s level.

North Dakota:

North Dakota Air National Guard’s Intelligence Targeting Facility in Fargo: The committee-passed bill includes $7.3 million for the ND Air National Guard’s Intelligence Targeting Facility.  The building will support the new targeting mission in Fargo, including expanding the space available for the mission and creating a secure facility to handle classified information.

Veterans Choice Program and 40 Mile Limit: The committee report includes language that requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to submit a comprehensive cost analysis of the Veterans Choice Program’s 40 mile rule criteria. The report must provide potential solutions that offer veterans access to non-VA care when they live more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility that can’t provide the medical services a veteran requires.

Military Construction Highlights:

  • Military Family Housing – $1.4 billion to fund construction, operation and maintenance of military family housing.
  • Military Medical Facilities – $678 million for construction and alterations for military medical facilities to care for 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries, including our wounded troops abroad.
  • Department of Defense (DOD) Education Facilities – $334 million for safety and infrastructure improvements at 10 DOD school facilities within the U.S. and overseas.
  • Guard and Reserve – $551 million to support the construction needs of the Guard and Reserve, $124 million above the FY2015 enacted level.
  • Missile Defense – $220.4 million provided to fully fund construction of a second missile defense site in Poland.

VA Highlights:

  • VA Mandatory Funding – The bill fulfills mandatory funding requirements such as: veteran disability compensation programs for 4.7 million veterans and their survivors; education benefits for nearly 1.2 million veterans; guaranteed home loans for 431,000 veterans; vocational rehabilitation and employment training for more than 137,000 veterans.
  • VA Medical Services – $50.7 billion to support treatment and care for approximately 6.9 million patients in FY2016. 
  • VA Electronic Health Record – $233 million for continued modernization of the VA electronic health record system. 
  • Disability Claims Processing Backlog – $290 million for the paperless claims processing system, $141 million for digital scanning of health records, and $26 million for centralized mail. 
  • Construction – Nearly $1.4 billion for major and minor construction associated with VA hospital replacement and continued correction of safety issues and deficiencies.