Appropriations bill a ‘responsible first step’
Lawmakers released an appropriations bill for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) last week that exceeds VA’s fiscal year 2024 budget request. If passed, the appropriations will provide $337.9 billion in funding to VA, the Department of Defense and other related agencies.
American Legion National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola praised the progress.
“The proposed appropriations bill, as it stands, demonstrates a responsible first step in the process of funding the Department of Veterans Affairs fiscal year 2024 budget,” he said. “While this is a positive sign, The American Legion will continue to monitor ongoing negotiations over specific funding lines. We encourage both parties to engage in a collaborative and bipartisan process to ensure that the interests of our nation's selfless veterans are met."
Here are some highlights of the current proposal:
Department of Defense:
• $17.6 billion in discretionary funding for DoD military construction projects, about $1 billion above the budget request from the White House.
• The funding targets infrastructure in the Pacific theater, barracks and other projects intended to improve quality of life for military personnel.
• $152.4 billion of discretionary funding allocated for VA programs, nearly $18 billion above fiscal year 2023.
• $138.1 billion for veterans’ medical care, matching the White House budget request.
• $43.6 billion in mandatory advances for FY25, including an increase of $34.6 billion for compensation and pensions and an additional $3 billion for readjustment benefits.
• $9.5 billion for homeless veterans treatment costs.
• $471.7 million is set aside for the American Battle Monuments Commission, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Armed Forces Retirement Home Trust Fund, and Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery.
• An additional $88.6 million is included to complete the southern expansion of the Arlington National Cemetery.
• An extra $80 million is granted across the active and reserve components to address small-scale infrastructure deficiencies.