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Ahead of Veterans Day, Senate Passes Bill to Fund Military Construction and VA

Funding Increased by Billions, Yet Systemic Failures at the VA Remain

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – today voted in favor of the bipartisan bill (H.R. 2029) funding military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill, which passed the Senate 93-0, includes funding for a number of Kansas military construction projects, prevents the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States, and through an amendment offered by Sen. Moran prohibits the use of funds to relocate senior VA executives.

“This bill reaffirms our commitment to support our Armed Forces and take care of nation’s veterans,” Sen. Moran said. “A strong national defense is critical to our security and is the federal government’s primary constitutional responsibility. I am committed to supporting our military personnel in Kansas and across the country, particularly against this administration’s unlawful pursuit of transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States. The closing of Gitmo shouldn’t happen without Congressional approval and certainly shouldn’t be done through an executive order. A critical national security decision deserves critical thought.” 

Regarding his amendment to prohibit funds to relocate senior VA executives, Sen. Moran added, “VA executives should not be taking advantage of benefits intended to help recruit and retain much-needed medical providers and other key personnel serving at VA facilities across the country. We need leaders in the VA who are willing to take a stand, identify the problems, and get on the right path to resolve these systemic issues so that veterans have a Department of Veterans Affairs worthy of their service.” 

This bill is the first stand-alone appropriations measure amended and passed in the Senate since 2011. It provides nearly $8 billion above last year’s funding level and is $1 billion above the president’s budget request. Since 2009, funding for the VA has grown by nearly 73 percent. Congress remains committed to our nation’s military personnel and veterans, but systemic failures continue to disrupt service to veterans and access to care they deserve.

Background on Kansas Military Construction Projects:

  • $2.4 million – Army National Guard’s Automated Combat Pistol/MP Firearms Qualification Course 
  • $4.3 million – Army National Guard Modified Record Fire Range
  • $2.9 million – Air National Guard Smokey Hill Range
  • $4.3 million – KC-46A at McConnell Air Force Base

Background on Amendment to Prohibit Funds to Relocate Senior VA Execs:

The amendment prohibits the use of funds for the Home Marketing Incentive Program (HMIP) or the Appraisal Value Offer (AVO) program for the relocation of senior VA executives. A September 2015 VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) Report found that senior VA executives were using the relocation program to provide more than $400,000 in questionable moving expenses. The Acting Inspector General reported that employees “inappropriately used their positions of authority for personal and financial benefit” when they forced transfers of lower-ranking officials and then filled the vacancies themselves. To learn more, click here.