The House Appropriations Committee moved quickly in its second week of markups, approving an amended fiscal year (FY) 2022 Military Construction, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) spending bill by a vote of 33-24 on June 30. This followed the June 25 subcommittee approval of the draft bill by voice vote.
The subcommittee prepared a press statement and summary following the June 25 markup before releasing additional details in the report accompanying the bill in advance of full committee consideration.
During the June 25 markup, Subcommittee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) noted the “boosted investment” in the VA research program as an area of bipartisan interest. Ranking Member Judge John Carter (R-Texas) also highlighted the increased research investment during his opening statement, adding that he looked forward to reporting the bill to the full committee.
The committee-passed bill includes $902 million for the VA’s Medical and Prosthetic Research program, a $87 million (10.7%) increase over FY 2021. The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA), a coalition of nearly 100 organizations organized by the AAMC, also recommends $902 million for the VA research program in FY 2022, as well as investments into physical and information technology needs to support the VA research program.
In her opening statement, full committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) emphasized the increased investment in the VA’s medical care programs, adding that the draft bill would provide “$100 million above the [president’s] budget request and providing for approximately 7.1 million patients to be treated in fiscal year 2022.”
The FY 2022 MilCon-VA bill includes an additional $3.3 billion for Medical Community Care on top of $20.1 billion provided as advanced appropriations in the FY 2021 spending bill, for a total of $23.4 billion for FY 2022 — a $4.9 billion (26.5%) increase over FY 2021. The bill also includes FY 2023 advanced appropriations of $24.2 billion for Medical Community Care.
For Medical Services, the FY 2022 MilCon-VA bill includes an additional $100 million on top of $58.9 billion provided as advanced appropriations in the FY 2021 spending bill, for a total of $59 billion for FY 2022 — a $2.3 billion (4.1%) increase over FY 2021. The bill also includes FY 2023 advanced appropriations of $70.3 billion for Medical Services.
Additionally, the bill contains language to restrict the use of dogs and cats in research within the VA research program. The AAMC signed on to a June 2019 community letter in opposition to similar language in the FY 2020 MilCon-VA spending bill [see Washington Highlights, June 28, 2019].
Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Texas) shared her concern that the funding levels used to draft the spending bills were not developed with bipartisan support, in referring to the party-line vote to “deem” an overall discretionary spending limit for FY 2022 spending bills on June 14 [refer to Washington Highlights, June 17].
“With just less than 100 days left before the end of this fiscal year, we need to get to work now to develop a plan to get appropriations bills enacted that have bipartisan support,” Granger said.
The House Appropriations Committee is currently scheduled to complete all bill markups by July 16.