Barletta Again Votes to Fund VA at Highest Level in History
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 5895 - Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019. Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) voted in favor of this legislation, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 377 to 20. The bill provides funding for national defense activities, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the Army Corps of Engineers, various programs under the U.S. Department of Energy, the Legislative Branch, and other related agencies for Fiscal Year 2019.
“Today, the House reaffirmed our commitment to taking care of our veterans, enhancing national security, and investing in American infrastructure,” Barletta said after passage. “The funding we provided today is critical to the health and wellbeing of our veterans, and the safety and security of all Americans. As someone who has consistently fought for these priorities, I am proud to have voted for this legislation.”
Importantly, the bill provides $86.5 billion in discretionary funding for the VA, an increase of $5 billion from the previously enacted level and the agency’s largest dollar amount in history. This includes $8.6 billion for veteran mental health services, $1.1 billion to modernize the VA’s electronic health record system, $270 million for rural veterans health initiatives, and $206 million for veteran suicide prevention outreach. Further, the bill directs the VA to speed up claim processing for more than 450,000 veterans waiting for compensation.
This legislation also allows for critical investment in our nation’s infrastructure by providing $7 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers to improve our ports and waterways, advancing American competitiveness and export ability, and improving safety in our communities with flood and storm damage reduction activities. Energy programs are provided $13.5 billion, while $15.23 billion is allotted for the U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons security programs, and $120 million is provided for research and development of ways to strengthen the U.S. electric grid against cyber attacks.
Additional highlights include but are not limited to:
- $334 million for water conservation and delivery projects
- 400 million for veteran opioid abuse prevention
- $10.3 billion for military construction projects
- $1.6 billion for military family housing
- Continuing the Member pay freeze in plce since Fiscal Year 2010
- Maintaining the 10 percent spending cut for Congress