Appropriations Bill Includes Important Funding for Military, Veterans
‘The committee’s package would deliver mission-critical maintenance and improvements that are needed on installations both at home and abroad. It would support active-duty personnel as well as National Guard and Reserve units. It would allocate significant resources for projects that reinforce key alliances and extend our influence around the world.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan appropriations legislation before the Senate:
“As I discussed on the floor yesterday, returning to a regular order appropriations process is at the forefront of the Senate’s agenda. Thanks to the bipartisan work of the Appropriations Committee, led by Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Leahy, and the subcommittee chairmen, it’s becoming a reality.
“Their efforts have already produced thoughtful legislation for the full Senate to consider, beginning this week with the combined measures for the Legislative Branch, for Energy and Water, and for Military Construction and the VA. It’s those last components that I’d like to discuss this morning.
“2018 has already brought significant legislative progress for America’s men and women in uniform. Earlier this year, Congress and the president did away with arbitrary funding limits that had eroded our forces’ comparative advantage. We delivered the largest year-on-year increase in funding for our troops in fifteen years.
“Now, with the military construction and VA funding bill before us this week, the Senate can keep the ball moving. The committee’s package would deliver mission-critical maintenance and improvements that are needed on installations both at home and abroad. It would support active-duty personnel as well as National Guard and Reserve units. It would allocate significant resources for projects that reinforce key alliances and extend our influence around the world.
“In my state of Kentucky, it would mean major improvements to training facilities at both Fort Knox, home of the Army Cadet, Human Resources, and Recruiting Commands, and at Fort Campbell, where the 101st Airborne Division and Special Operations forces prepare for evolving missions.
“But while underpinning the ongoing missions of our active forces, the legislation before us would also take critical steps to meet the individual needs of America’s warfighters and their families at home. It would allocate over $1.5 billion to operate and maintain military family housing facilities. It would provide for vital safety updates at overseas American military schools, part of a system that serves more than 66,000 children. Hundreds of millions in additional funding would go to build and improve the network of military medical facilities, which provide care to nearly ten million servicemembers and military families.
“Finally, within the military construction legislation is important funding to support our veterans. In addition to funding the maintenance and upkeep of VA health facilities, it goes further in allocating targeted resources to address the system’s shortcomings. Especially when we talk about access to prompt, quality care, the status quo is simply not good enough for America’s veterans. For the more than 300,000 Kentucky veterans, and for the millions of veterans nationwide, we can and must do better.
“That’s why the bill includes billions of dollars to improve claims processing and cut down on backlogs. And funding for treatment, mental health services, and preventing opioid misuse. There are plenty of good reasons to support this appropriations package. But one of the most compelling is the support it will deliver to our all-volunteer military and those who have served our country in uniform. Let’s keep this legislation moving this week.
“Speaking of government spending, we’ll soon have an opportunity to save some of the money taxpayers entrust to us. Thanks to the hard work of members including Senator Lee and Chairman Enzi, we’ll soon turn to a House-passed bill that acts on the president’s request to rescind nearly $15 billion in previously-appropriated money that has gone unspent.
“This modest belt-tightening would in no way infringe on the bipartisan spending deal that Senators on both sides agreed to earlier this year. This savings package is 100% unrelated to that agreement. Totally separate. It simply pulls back a small amount of unspent funds from a variety of government accounts.
“If we, the people’s elected representatives, want to speak seriously about stewarding taxpayer money, surely we can vote to recapture these unspent funds that are not even currently in use. The president’s modest rescissions request is entirely reasonable. It should be uncontroversial. I look forward to voting for it myself, and I urge my fellow members to do the same.”
Related Issues: America's Military, Appropriations, Veterans