Senate cuts discretionary funds for veterans affairs, military construction

Despite that cut, the $146.6 billion set aside by the Senate Appropriations military construction, veteran affairs, and related agencies subcommittee is still nearly $230 million more than what the department received for those accounts in fiscal '12, according to a subpanel statement released Tuesday. 

The $465.9 million was mainly taken from discretionary coffers within the department's military construction accounts, according to the statement. 

The subcommittee's version of the bill includes $71.9 billion in discretionary funding and $74.6 billion in mandatory funding.

Along with discretionary funding, Senate appropriators also decided to shave a total of $569 million in military construction accounts alone, according to the subcommittee's mark. 

Roughly $470 million of the $10.6 billion subpanel members fenced off for military construction projects will go toward Base Realignment and Closure projects, according to the subcommittee bill.  

Most of those dollars will go toward finishing BRAC-related programs tied to base closures in 1990 and 2005. 

Over $250 million will be funneled into the "U.S. share of joint U.S.-NATO military facilities" around the world, according to the statement. That figure is $6.5 million million more than what DOD was granted for this work in fiscal '12. 

On the veterans affairs side, Senate appropriators did include and additional $54.5 billion in fiscal '14 for "advance appropriations for veterans medical services," according to the statement. 

Senate appropriators also agreed to finance the White House's $3.28 billion request for healthcare costs of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. 

"The VA estimates that the number of OEF/OIF veterans in its healthcare system will reach 610,416 in 2013," subcommittee members wrote. "This funding includes medical treatment associated with combat-related injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)." 

Subpanel members also approved $7.2 billion for both institutional and home-based longterm healthcare "for ...  aging veterans as well as severely wounded combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to the statement.