Yesterday, the House passed the FY2014 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill (H.R. 2216), the first of 12 appropriations bills to be considered in Congress.
The Military Construction portion of the bill provides $9.9 billion for military construction projects, family housing, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP), and Chemical Demilitarization construction. This is $1.1 billion less than the FY2014 request and about $650 million below the FY2013 enacted level.
The House-passed bill reduces the request for military construction projects by $428 million and for NSIP by $40 million, but fully funds the request for Family Housing, Chemical Demilitarization and BRAC. The bill rescinds prior-year project funding by $584 million. The House adopted a floor amendment that would prohibit any funding for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.
The overwhelming approval vote (241-4) came in the wake of a veto threat by the White House earlier this week in a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on both the FY2014 MilCon/VA and Homeland Security bills.
This veto threat was not in response to what is contained in the House bills. While the SAPs do object to a number of House actions in the bills, notably the lack of funding for the president’s proposed 1 percent civilian employee pay raise, no specific objection receives a veto threat.
Rather, the veto threat is directed at the House Appropriations Committee’s distribution of total FY2014 funding to its 12 subcommittees, the so-called 302(b) allocations. These allocations make significant reductions to most nondefense bills, but safeguards funding for the DoD, Homeland Security, and Military Construction/VA bills.
The administration strongly objects to what it considers a rearrangement of federal budget and urges the House and Senate to agree on an overall budget framework that “enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation, and national security” before it acts on any appropriations bill. Until such an agreement is reached, the SAPs state that the president’s senior advisors would recommend a veto of any bill that implements the House budgetary proposals.