This week the House overwhelmingly passed (416-1) the FY2015 Military Construction/Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, the first of the 12 FY2015 appropriations bills to be acted on in Congress.
House Appropriations Committee (HAC) chair Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) congratulated members on both side of the aisle for their quick, bipartisan action on the bill. “This is a bipartisan bill that provides for the peace of mind and quality of life for our military.”
The Military Construction portion of the MilCon/VA bill provides $6.557 billion for military construction projects, family housing, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), the NATO Security Investment Program, and Chemical Demilitarization construction. This amount is equal to the president’s FY2015 request, but $3.3 billion lower than the FY2014 enacted level.
The House bill reduces the DoD funding request for active component military construction projects by $165 million, but fully funds the request for reserve components military construction projects, and for the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP), Family Housing, Chemical Demilitarization, and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
The bill also provides an additional $125 million for construction projects that were previously authorized in the FY2014 Defense Authorization Act. This funding would go to projects for Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force active components and for Army and Navy reserve components. The bill also adds another $245 billion for the Army National Guard and Reserves the Army identified if the funds were authorized in the FY2015 Defense Authorization bill. To offset some of this additional funding and bring the total bill in line with the president’s request, the House bill rescinds $204.6 million from prior appropriations Acts.
The House floor also addressed two hot-button issues for members of Congress that had not been considered in the committee-approved bill: Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and Commissaries.
The full House passed by voice vote a floor amendment offered by Rep. Joe Runyan (R-NJ) prohibiting the use of funds to propose, plan for, or execute a new BRAC round. The FY2015 budget request proposes a new BRAC round in FY2017.
The House also approved by voice vote an amendment proposed by Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) prohibiting the use of funds to close any military commissary store. The budget request included a proposal to cut the funding subsidy to commissaries, which many in Congress believe will result in closure of some commissaries in the U.S.