Rooney Votes to Fund Troops and the VA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, joined a bipartisan majority in the House to pass legislation that pays for our troops, their families and all our nation’s veterans. The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017 passed the House on September 28, 2016 with a bipartisan vote of 342-85. Today, President Obama signed this bill into law.
This bill upholds our nation’s promise to care for our troops, veterans and military families who keep us safe at home and strong abroad. The bill contains funding to train, and equip military personnel, provide housing and services to military families and helps maintain base infrastructure. The bill also increases funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs – to address management problems and healthcare shortages, as well as to increase the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of the services it provides to our veterans.
As the co-chair of the Military Mental Health Caucus, Rooney fought for funding to address the invisible mental health wounds suffered by troops returning home from combat. He secured $7.9 billion in funding for veterans mental health treatments, to provide extra help for those service members suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Rooney also secured $7.3 billion in funding for VA programs to help homeless veterans and their families receive proper treatment and have access to other services, housing, and job training. With an ultimate goal of ending veterans homelessness altogether, it is critical to design programs that provide homeless veterans with a path to homeownership. To help facilitate this goal, Rooney included language in this bill that directs the VA to examine the feasibility of a pilot program that would provide grants to Veterans Service Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations to purchase and repurpose abandoned homes into housing for homeless veterans.
Important provisions for veterans in Florida’s 17th district include
- $320 million for supportive services for low-income veterans and families
- $250 million for rural health care services, several provisions intended to prevent the over-prescription of opioids by VA doctors
- $156 million for the Board of Veterans Appeals to support 242 new staff to tackle claims appeals, which have been ballooning as the number of claims decisions has increased.
Notable provisions of this bill include:
- $74.4 billion is provided for the VA
- $52.8 billion for VA medical services which includes critical funding for mental health, suicide prevention, traumatic brain injury, services for homeless veterans, and rural health initiatives
- $260 million for the modernization of electronic health records and restricts certain funds until the VA certifies interoperability with DOD
In conjunction with the military funding bill, the House also passed the Zika Response and Preparedness Act. Rooney was the only Florida Republican to be appointed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to the Zika Conference Committee and he has voted in support of every Zika funding measure that has been brought to the House floor. This bill provides $1.1 billion in emergency funding to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of State, and the United States Agency for International Development to combat the Zika virus. When combined with funds already reprogrammed by the Administration for Zika response activities, the Republican Controlled House has allocated a total of $1.7 billion to address this public health need.