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Legislative Updates

House spending bill would increase spending for veterans programs

On June 23, the House approved the Fiscal Year 2017 Military Construction-VA appropriations package, providing $82.5 billion in discretionary funding. The amount reflects an increase of $2.6 billion from last year and provides the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with $14.2 billion (9 percent) more than the current funding levels. The spending package includes:

  • $52.8 billion for medical services for veterans, including $7.9 billion in mental health services and $173 million in suicide prevention efforts;
  • $260 million for the modernization of the VA electronic health record system;
  • $2.9 billion to process disability claims, a boost of $148 million over Fiscal Year 2016, and
  • $66.4 billion to advance appropriations for veterans’ medical programs in Fiscal Year 2018, along with $103.9 billion in advance mandatory funding for the VA.

A statement from the Obama administration contained a veto threat over the legislation, since the measure provides for lower funding than requested by the president and would restrict funds to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

The legislation now awaits a vote by the Senate, which is likely to be scheduled for next week.

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