The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) approved its draft fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bill by voice vote on June 15.
The subcommittee prepared a press statement and summary in advance of the markup, noting the adoption of President Joe Biden’s request to establish VA medical care spending as its own category, separated from the traditional defense and non-defense categories. VA medical care includes funding for medical services, medical community care, medical support and compliance, and medical facilities.
During the June 16 markup, subcommittee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) noted, “I am pleased that the Biden administration’s budget request separated out the cost of veterans’ medical care from other discretionary needs, recognizing that the cost of treating those who served our country should not come at the expense of other needs.”
In her opening statement, full committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) also emphasized the separation of veterans’ health care spending from other nondefense discretionary spending. This “protects veterans’ health care. It ensures that it will not have to compete with other priorities,” she said.
The subcommittee-passed bill includes $926 million for the VA’s Medical and Prosthetic Research program, a $44 million (5%) increase over FY 2022. The committee-prepared summary noted that “This funding will allow VA to exceed the budget request’s target of funding approximately 2,697 total projects and partnering with more than 200 medical schools and other academic institutions,” which DeLauro also highlighted in her comments.
The Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research (FOVA), a coalition of nearly 90 organizations convened by the AAMC, recommends $980 million for the VA research program in FY 2023, as well as investments into physical and information technology needs to support the VA research program. The $980 million funding level was supported by over 100 Dear Colleague signatories in the House and Senate.
The MilCon-VA bill includes an additional $4.3 billion for Medical Community Care for a total of $28.5 billion in FY 2023 — a $5 billion (22%) increase over FY 2022. The bill also includes FY 2024 advanced appropriations of $33 billion for Medical Community Care.
For Medical Services, the MilCon-VA bill includes an additional $327 million for a total of $70.7 billion in FY 2023 — an $11.8 billion (20%) increase over FY 2022. The bill also includes FY 2024 advanced appropriations of $74 billion for Medical Services.
As in previous years, the bill contains language to restrict the use of dogs and cats in research within the VA research program.
Ranking Member John Carter (R-Texas) thanked Wasserman Schultz for “carefully considering all the many Republican and Democrat requests we received this year, and we were able to accommodate most of them.”
The House of Representatives previously voted on June 8 to “deem” a $1.6 trillion top line discretionary spending cap, or 302(a), for FY 2023 spending bills in order for appropriators to begin work on their spending bills. The deeming resolution reflects the topline spending proposal from Biden released in March [refer to Washington Highlights, April 1]. Full committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Texas) noted her concern that the bill is “based on a funding level that passed the House without Republican support.”
The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the FY 2023 MilCon-VA spending bill on June 23, and is currently scheduled to complete marking up all 12 spending bills by June 30.