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Congresswoman McCollum's Statement on the FY13 Military Construction-VA Appropriations Act, H.R. 5854

May 31, 2012
Statements For the Record

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5854, the FY13 Military Construction-VA Appropriations Act. This subcommittee has a strong record of bipartisan collaboration and I want to commend Subcommittee Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Bishop for their leadership in advancing this important bill.

However, I remain disappointed that the Republican Majority continues to depart from the spending caps agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011, which already mandates deep spending cuts across the federal budget.  As we continue passing appropriations bills under the constraints of the Republican Budget Resolution, it is crucial that we protect our veterans and military families from any deep and harmful budget cuts. Members of the Committee were able to do so in this bill by providing ample funding for veterans healthcare, education, and construction improvements on our military bases. It also takes much needed action to improve the VA and Pentagon’s health records sharing program.

It is an honor to serve on the subcommittee that ensures that our armed forces, their families, and our veterans get the critical resources they have earned. After listening to veterans in my District and meeting with military families on bases across the country, I worked to further strengthen H.R 5854 to reflect their priorities. I am pleased that this bill contains language that helps women veterans gain access to important medical needs, including prosthetics for women amputees. This bill also contains language that fully supports the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments in their efforts to increase their use of clean alternative energy sources. Lastly, it encourages our military to continue their strong commitment to providing the best quality child care and housing on base.

Although the Subcommittee reported a “clean” bill, I was disappointed that a harmful and unnecessary amendment restricting project labor agreements was adopted during Full Committee markup. I am strongly opposed to the inclusion of the provision and it is my hope that members vote to remove it before final passage of the legislation.

America has a debt to pay for the service and sacrifices our veterans have made for all of us.  The funding provided in this bill is absolutely essential to provide the services and support to all our veterans, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. We can and must meet our commitments to the millions of veterans, service members and their families here and across the world.

Passage of this bill would help accomplish this and I urge my colleagues to support it.