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  • Washington Highlights

    House, Senate Full Committees Approve Veterans Affairs Spending Bills

    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The House and Senate appropriations committees each approved versions of the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) spending bills; April 13 and April 14, respectively.

    Matching the President’s budget request, both the House and Senate provide $7.2 billion for FY 2017 Medical Community Care as a transfer from the advanced appropriation Medical Care accounts. The Medical Community Care account was created under the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-41) to “consolidate all community care programs under a single appropriation” [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 11, 2015]  For FY 2018, both bills would provide $9.4 billion in advanced appropriations for Medical Community Care, a $2.2 billion (30 percent) increase over FY 2017.

    The Senate bill provides $675 million for FY 2017 VA Medical and Prosthetic Research, a $44 million (7 percent) increase over FY 2016, exceeding the House and President’s Budget recommendations of $663 million. For the first time, the administration has proposed to dedicate $65 million of VA research funding to the Million Veterans Program (MVP) in support of the president's Precision Medicine Initiative. Without a corresponding increase in funding, the VA plans to reprioritize program spending, including a decrease in investigator-driven projects [see Washington Highlights, Feb. 12].

    Despite the budget pressure caused by MVP, report language accompanying the House bill specifically calls for more research related to PTSD, respiratory diseases, innovative treatments, stroke research, exoskeleton research, canine therapy, sleep research, intergenerational effects of toxic exposure, prosthetics for females, colorectal cancer research, Alzheimer’s disease, and antimalarial medications.

    Floor consideration has not been scheduled for either chamber.