Hoeven Works to Advance ND Guard, Air Force & Veteran Priorities through Senate Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven issued the following statement after joining the Senate Appropriations Committee in approving the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (Milcon-VA) funding legislation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. As a member of the Milcon-VA Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to ensure the bill supported key priorities for North Dakota’s servicemembers and veterans, including:

  • More than $5.4 million for the future National Guard Readiness Center in Dickinson.
    • This comes in addition to the $15.5 million in funding that Hoeven previously worked to secure for the facility.
    • For Minot Air Force Base, language directing the Air Force to:
      • Provide Congress with status updates on future weapons generation facilities and accelerate the facilities wherever possible.
      • Prioritize plans to upgrade security gates at Global Strike Command bases like the Minot Air Force Base.
      • Language supporting efforts to construct additional facilities at Rural Initiative (RI) national cemeteries, including the Fargo National Cemetery.
      • A provision to enhance veteran access to long-term care (LTC) providers.
      • Language encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue researching the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as a treatment for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.
        • The bill also encourages the VA to permit case-by-case referrals for HBOT through VA Community Care.

“North Dakota plays a key role in our nation’s defense, from the dual nuclear mission in Minot to our Guard units across the state,” said Hoeven. “We’ve worked to ensure this appropriations bill supports the readiness and missions of our servicemembers, while also improving the health care options available to our veterans. This includes funding a new readiness center for the Army National Guard in Dickinson, advancing a new weapons generation facility and upgraded security gates in Minot and helping veterans access the health care they need, including long-term care providers closer to home.”

Improving Veteran LTC Access

            Specifically, the measure included in the FY24 appropriations bill directs the VA to work with the Department of Labor (DoL) to permanently exempt VA community care facilities, including LTC providers, from burdensome and duplicative contracting requirements. The mandates, which come under DoL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), are duplicative of existing Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) standards and result in significantly increased costs and paperwork burdens for providers and discouraging them from caring for veterans.

            Accordingly, Hoeven has been working to secure a permanent exemption for VA community providers and recently raised this priority with both Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough and DoL Acting Secretary Julie Su. The senator also secured an extension of the current moratorium on the mandates until a permanent solution can be put in place, similar to the OFCCP exemption that was established for TRICARE providers.