Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Rooney-Requested Funding for Traumatic Brain Injuries, Veteran Families Included in 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill

Jun 13, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, successfully secured $125 million for traumatic brain injuries in the 2019 Defense Appropriations bill.

At nearly $675 billion, the 2019 Defense funding levels are an increase of over $17 billion from 2018 levels.

The 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill includes several Rooney-requested provisions, including $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research.

Rooney, who chairs the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, has led the charge to raise awareness about traumatic brain injuries among veterans throughout his 10 years in Congress.

“The reality is that our servicemembers take great risks when they enlist to fight for our country,” Rooney said. “One of the biggest risks is TBIs, which can lead to severe mental health issues like depression and even suicide. These problems are serious and real and each dollar we spend towards research and treatment puts us one step closer to helping our military.”

The bill also includes language ensuring families of fallen servicemembers can receive death gratuity during a government shutdown.

“I’ve seen reports documenting families of U.S. servicemembers being locked out of death benefits as a result of government shutdowns,” Rooney said.  “This is totally unacceptable. At the end of the day, we have an obligation to our military and their families. Shutdowns should not impact that obligation whatsoever.”

In addition, the legislation provides increased funding for F-35 aircraft, ensuring men and women in the military have the latest and greatest technology to defeat enemies.

Earlier this year, Rooney and Joint Strike Fighter Caucus Co-Chair John Larson (D-CT) led a letter requesting support for at least 90 aircraft in the FY2019 Appropriations bill. Though the president’s FY19 budget request only asked for 77 aircraft, Congress has recognized this would be a step in the wrong direction and gives the appearance the Pentagon is stepping back from supporting the program.

This legislation moves ahead with the F-35 program, approving the Rooney/Larson request by providing $9.4 billion to the Pentagon for 93 F-35 aircrafts.

The bill will also increase the size of the military and provide a 2.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers.