Congressman Sires Objects to Veterans Affairs Reductions in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017
(Washington, D.C.) - Today, Congressman Sires voted against H.R. 4974, the fiscal year (FY) 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 295-129. While this legislation provides funding for important military construction and veterans programs, it neglects the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by funding it $1.5 billion below the President’s requested level.
“Our men and women in uniform face enormous challenges while serving our country and they should not have to jump over hurdles to receive proper care when they return home,” stated Congressman Sires. “Veterans in the 8th District and across New Jersey continue to struggle to receive the proper care they deserve; underfunding the VA is not the solution to this widespread problem.”
While the bill provides funding for some critical military and veterans measures, its falls short of the requested funding levels for medical services and construction projects at the VA. Specifically, the bill includes a $228 million decrease in medical service funding from the Administration’s request and a $1.2 billion decrease for construction and major projects. In addition to failing to provide this crucial funding, the bill includes unnecessary and inflammatory provisions, such as prohibiting funding for temporary housing projects for unaccompanied immigrant children at military installations.
“Funding military construction and veterans affairs initiatives must not be a partisan issue,” expressed Congressman Sires. “It is my hope that if a Senate version advances and a conference committee is formed, both sides of the aisle will work together in the best interests of our Nation’s veterans to address the severe underfunding of the VA.”
H.R. 4974 awaits passage of a Senate counterpart in order to go to conference.