WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, applauded passage of the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations (MilCon-VA) bill. The MilCon-VA funding bill provides a total of $79.7 billion in discretionary funding for veterans, which is $2.17 billion more than the Senate Committee-reported bill.
“After a seemingly endless battle to eliminate harmful funding cuts, I’m proud that the Veterans Affairs appropriations bill we passed today will have a positive tangible effect on veterans’ lives,” said Murphy. “For months, I have fought against Republicans’ devastating budget proposals, and because Democrats stood strong, veterans will now receive record-breaking budget funding. With extra resources, we can close healthcare gaps and fix the unacceptably enormous backlog of medical claims at the VA. Our veterans are close to receiving the timely medical treatment, high-quality mental health care, and community support services they deserve.”
Highlights of the MilCon-VA bill include:
- Fully funds the operation of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) at $2.69 billion - $163.5 million more than fiscal year 2015 funding. This will enable the VA to continue to transform VBA from a paper-based claims process to a digital environment;
- Provides additional funding for the VA to hire 770 new claims processors, including 200 new appeals adjudicators, which is key to addressing the claims backlog;
- Increases funding for VA State extended care facility grants to help aging veterans get the care they deserve;
- Includes $154 million for Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and Marine Corps military construction.