MilCon/VA Chairman Kirk Funds Veterans’ Care at Record Levels, Adds New Whistleblower Protections

 

Bill Set to Head to President’s Desk as Part of Bipartisan Omnibus Agreement 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, released the following statement regarding his FY 2016 funding bill that is included in this year’s final omnibus package:

“My bill funds veterans’ care at record levels – $1.3 billion over the President’s request – and extends whistleblower protections to VA doctors and nurses who stand up against corruption to stop abuse of our heroes. I thank my Ranking Member, Senator Jon Tester, for working with me to craft this bipartisan bill that will take care of our men and women in uniform.”

Background: 

In addition to funding veterans’ care at record levels, the bill extends whistleblower protections to VA doctors and nurses and includes serious construction reforms to prevent the VA from wasting taxpayer money on poorly managed projects. In total, the bill provides $71.4 billion in discretionary funding – an increase of $6.4 billion or 9.8 percent over last year.

The bill provides a record $163 billion in total discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  Discretionary funding for the VA totals $71.4 billion, which is $6.5 billion or 9.8 percent over the FY 2015 enacted level, and $1.3 billion above the President’s request. The bill makes an additional $2.5 billion in FY 2016 available to improve patient access to care, and to support additional health care services including hepatitis C treatments, veterans’ caregiver services and homeless veterans’ assistance.  Overall VA funding will provide for health care, benefit claims processing, medical and prosthetic research, information technology and VA National Cemeteries.

The bill also provides $8.2 billion for military construction projects, $1.6 billion above the enacted FY 2015 level. The legislation recommends funds for construction and renovation projects to ensure military readiness and quality of life on military bases within the United States and around the globe, including military family housing, military family support services, hospital and health facilities construction and important overseas investments.