Boozman Bill to Fund Military Construction & Veterans Programs One Step Closer to Becoming Law

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined fellow Senate and House conferees in introducing a final conference agreement on the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bills for Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch.

“This bill is the result of a bipartisan commitment to return to regular order. The critical investments included in this package fund construction of national defense facilities and family housing for our Armed Forces in addition to upholding our promises to our veterans by supporting their health care and benefits. I appreciate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby’s leadership which has provided all members a voice in determining how taxpayer dollars are spent,” said Boozman, Chairman of the Senate Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee and author of this portion of the funding package.

The bill includes a provision that requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit a departmental response plan to Congress that can be applied at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center and all future cases of clinical disclosures and provide recommendations about changes necessary to prevent such incidents.

It also contains $14 million for improvements to the hydrant fuel system at Little Rock Air Force Base in addition to a measure to move forward with improvements to the base’s runway.

Military Construction – Resources to fund 190 military construction projects including construction and renovation projects on military bases within the United States and around the globe.

Veterans Affairs– The record level of funding for the VA will provide the health care, benefits and memorial services earned by U.S. service members and veterans.

VA Medical Care – Funding to support medical treatment and health care for approximately 9.3 million enrolled patients in FY2019.

Veterans Homelessness – $1.8 billion for VA Homelessness programs including $380 million for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.

Claims Processing – Funding to ensure that proper staffing and resources are utilized to reduce the wait time and backlog of disability decisions on appeal, and to meet the demand for other benefit programs.
Construction – Funding for major and minor construction associated with VA hospital replacement, correction of seismic deficiencies, scores of projects to improve access to VA health care, and the VA’s National Cemeteries.
VA Mandatory Funding – The bill fulfills mandatory funding requirements, including veteran disability compensation programs for 4.9 million veterans and 432,000 survivors; education benefits for nearly one million veterans; guaranteed home loans for 519,000 veterans; and vocational rehabilitation and employment training for more than 149,000 veterans.

Advance Appropriations – $75.6 billion in FY2020 advance discretionary funding for veterans’ health care, and $123.2 billion in FY2020 advance mandatory funding for veterans’ benefits.

Electronic Health Records – The bill provides $1.1 billion for the Veterans Electronic Health Record system and management to improve the efficiency and quality of veterans’ health care.

Related Agencies – The legislation also includes funding for:

American Battle Monuments Commission
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
Arlington National Cemetery
Armed Forces Retirement Home

The bill provides additional resources for the Veterans History Project, an initiative that builds an archive at the Library of Congress of oral histories and personal documents of the men and women who served our country in uniform. Boozman and his staff have conducted nearly 50 interviews of Arkansas veterans for inclusion in the archive and have trained more than 400 people across the state to participate in the project.