Barletta Votes to Fund VA at Highest Level in History
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5895, legislation that funds the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), military construction initiatives, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations. Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) voted in favor of this legislation, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 235 to 179.
“Today, the House reaffirmed our commitment to enhancing national security, investing in American infrastructure, and taking care of our veterans,” Barletta said after passage. “The funding we provided today is critical not just to the safety and security of everyday Americans, but also to the health and wellbeing of our veterans. While this bill is a step in the right direction, I will keep fighting to ensure Washington is working for those back home in Pennsylvania.”
Specifically, H.R. 5895 increases funding for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Totaling $85.3 billion, it is the largest amount of funding ever provided for the VA. This includes $7.4 billion for homeless veterans services, $8.6 billion for mental health care services, $387 million for opioid abuse prevention, and $270 million for rural veterans’ health initiatives. The bill also provides funding for VA oversight offices to protect whistleblowers and increase accountability by investigating poorly performing managers and inferior patient care.
Importantly, the measure also allows for critical investment in our nation’s infrastructure by providing $7.28 billion for the Army Corps of engineers to improve our nation’s ports, waterways, and floor protection infrastructure. Energy programs are provided $13.2 billion in funding targeted to encourage U.S. economic competitiveness and help advance our nation’s “all of the above” solution to energy independence. The legislation also repeals the Waters of the U.S. rule, which created a massive tangle of bureaucracy that threatens job creation and economic growth for farmers, home builders, manufacturers, and contractors involved with using the land in the course of doing business.
Additionally, the bill continues the pay freeze for Members of Congress that has been in place since Fiscal Year 2010 and provides $579 million for the Government Accountability Office, which provides critical oversight of how taxpayer dollars are spent on federal programs.
Barletta also expressed concern with the Senate’s inability to act on hundreds of other important pieces of legislation and urged action on this important funding bill. “Unfortunately, while my colleagues and I continue to work across the aisle in the House to pass legislation that helps the American people,” Barletta said, “the democrats in the Senate continue to obstruct, leaving over 500 bills passed by the House that are still waiting to be voted on by the Senate. The American people deserve better. I urge the Senate to put their differences aside, come to the table, and act quickly on this important funding measure that our veterans and many others are depending on.”