Chair Murray Remarks on Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill at Markup
ICYMI: Summary of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill – READ HERE
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year 2024 Appropriations Bill as the Committee meets to consider the bill.
Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“We will now move to consideration of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill.
“As Chair of the Milcon-VA Subcommittee, I’d like to thank my partner across the aisle, Senator Boozman, and both of our staffs—Michelle, Jason, Joanne, and Gabriella on my staff, and Patrick and Jennifer of the Minority staff—for working hard to pull together a strong, bipartisan bill that works within the numbers agreed to in the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and gets our military and our veterans the support we owe them—the support they need.
“When it comes to military construction, our ships, submarines, aircrafts, and more, are only as good as the infrastructure they rely on, and they are only as well supported as the troops who operate them.
“So this bill provides DOD $19.1 billion for military construction—an increased investment over FY-23 levels.
“This funding will help with construction projects across our country at base installations—for things like: child care development centers to ensure our military and spouses can go to work knowing their children are safe, housing like the barracks project at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in my home state, and other facilities to support our troops.
“It will help make sure our shipyards—like the Naval Base in Kitsap, and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard—are up to date and up to the challenges of this moment.
“These investments will build our presence around the world—especially in the Indo-Pacific regions—and strengthen our military infrastructure to keep it resilient in the face of threats like severe weather, and earthquakes.
“I’m glad we also included funds to address PFAS and other toxins at former installations that could put our communities, and military families especially, in harm’s way.
“And, of course, there is funding to support military families. Because our soldiers absolutely deserve to have high quality child care—and across our appropriations bills we need to make sure they have access to good schools, health care facilities, and more. In every bill we write—we cannot leave families behind.
“Which is why I’m also proud of all the work that has been done to support veterans and their families in this bill.
“As the daughter of a World War II veteran—I take the promises we make to those who fought for our country very seriously. And this bill ensures we keep our promises to these men and women by fully funding VAs budget request.
“We are talking increased funding for mental health and suicide prevention programs, for the caregivers program I fought to expand with so many of you, for expanding the child care pilot program, for homelessness prevention programs, for rural health programs, and of course—for women veterans’ health care—women are the fastest growing demographic of veterans, after all!
“And in addition to this, we passed more than $20 billion in funding for the toxic exposures fund as part of the Fiscal Responsibility Act earlier this month.
“The bill before us today also increases VA infrastructure funding so we can begin to address the challenges related to VA’s aging medical facilities.
“And it reflects the much-needed pause and reset happening with the electronic health record modernization program. I have been raising the alarm from day one about how the unacceptable, botched rollout of this program hurt veterans in Washington state, and I will be watching closely to make sure the reset provides real results for our veterans and VA providers.
“Because at the end of the day, these investments are not just about programs and contracts, this is about our promise to get veterans the benefits they earned—prescriptions, mental health care, cancer screenings, and more they need to stay healthy. It’s about standing with veteran families and the providers that help veterans live life to the fullest.
“The stakes could not be higher for these families—and we owe them so much.
“I am fighting every day to make sure we are living up to our obligations here, and this bill sends a clear, bipartisan message: We are not going to let anyone put veterans on the chopping block. We are fully funding the care they need.
“So I hope all of my colleagues will join me in sending that message and voting for this strong, bipartisan bill.
“I want to thank Senator Boozman, who I know cares deeply about these issues—again for working on this with me. And I will now turn it over to him for remarks.”
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