Panel approves $77B bill for military construction, vets' benefits

House appropriators on Wednesday advanced a $77 billion bill funding military construction projects and veterans’ benefits.

The bill is scheduled to hit the House floor next week along with a $35 billion bill funding energy and water development programs.

The military construction bill is $1.2 billion below President Obama’s budget request, but $4.6 billion above the level appropriated for the current 2015 year.

A Republican amendment package was adopted into the bill, while a Democratic-sponsored amendment related to medical marijuana was rejected.

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The proposal from Rep. Sam FarrSamuel (Sam) Sharon FarrMedical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Marijuana advocates to give away free joints on Capitol Hill DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (D-Calif.) would have prevented funds from being used to enforce a restriction on Veterans’ Affairs providers that says they can't complete forms seeking recommendations or opinions about a veteran’s participation in a state marijuana program.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) said he’d rather have an authorizing committee handle such a proposal instead of the appropriations panel. Dent explained that veterans are able to participate in such state programs, but are not allowed to possess marijuana at VA facilities. 

Republicans accepted a Democratic amendment to boost VA research.

The bill provides $4.6 billion above the 2015 level and includes funding Congress already approved in advance appropriations last year for veterans.

For military construction projects, the bill provides $7.7 billion, which is $904 million above the 2015 level and $755 million below Obama’s budget request. The funds cover construction and renovation projects on military bases around the world.

Republicans also meet Obama’s request to provide $63.3 billion in advance appropriations for fiscal 2017 funding for veterans’ medical programs.