Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate yesterday passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2019, including critical provisions for Florida’s military authored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).
“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am proud to have fought for these critical provisions benefitting Florida’s military and veterans,” said Rubio. “The MilCon-VA bill includes meaningful funding for veterans programs and military construction projects across Florida, as well as funding for opioid treatment programs and PTSD research. The Sunshine State continues to carry a long and prideful tradition of supporting our servicemen and women, and I will continue to honor their service and sacrifices by fighting for them in Washington.”
Rubio provisions in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act
Selected Rubio provisions in the FY19 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations bill:
· Language directing the VA to ensure that physicians with revoked medical licenses are not conducting medical disability examinations on behalf of the Department.
· Language directing the VA to address security deficiencies that GAO recently identified at two Florida medical centers by requiring the VA take steps to improve its overall risk management process.
· Language reiterating concern about the lack of consistency in the VA’s handling of Camp Lejeune Contaminated Water exposure claims.
· $1.8 billion for VA’s homeless prevention programs.
· Language encouraging the VA to implement innovative approaches to PTSD treatment for veterans utilizing virtual reality in combination with group therapy.
· Over $400 million for Opioid Prevention and Treatment programs in VA.
· Language urging the VA to improve oversight of the controlled substance inspection program to reduce opioid diversion within VA Medical Centers.
· Language encouraging the VA to dedicate resources to continue developing partnerships with non-VA organizations to provide veterans access to groundbreaking new cancer treatments through clinical trials.
· Language directing the VA to formulate a strategy to address the physician shortages currently facing the VA Caribbean Healthcare System post-Hurricane Maria.
· Language requiring a report assessing the VA Caribbean Healthcare System’s emergency response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria and identifying areas for improvement.
· Funding for Phase 2 of the Cape Canaveral Gravesite Expansion.
· Florida Military Construction: Funds five military construction projects for the state of Florida for a total of $174 million. Including:
o Naval Station Mayport: LCS Support Facility, LCS Operational Training Facility Addition
o Eglin Air Force Base: F-35A Student Dormitory II, F-35A Integrated Training Center Academic Building
o MacDill AFB: KC135 Beddown Add Flight Simulator Training
· Eglin Air Force Base’s Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Initial Joint Training Site: Report language directing the Department of Defense to provide the status of its compliance with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision to establish Eglin Air Force Base as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Initial Joint Training Site. Additionally, the report would include a infrastructure plan supporting the JSF IJTS at Eglin AFB, to include completed facilities and associated capacity and current utilization, and how remaining infrastructure requirements have been adjusted to adapt to the training mission.
· Strategic Laydown and Dispersal: Report Language to address the strategic dispersal of US capital ships at major ports and stating that strategic dispersal should be a key consideration in expanding the fleet, and that, as a first step, the Navy should program military construction funding, to include planning and design funds, for necessary infrastructure to achieve strategic dispersal of its fleet, beginning with the budget request, and future years defense program for fiscal year 2020.
· Major Range and Test Facility Base: Provision highlights the continued concern over the lack of investment and sustainment in MRTFB facilities. These ranges, which include Army, Navy, Air Force and Defense Agency facilities are critical to developing and maintaining the Nation’s military technological superiority. In order to support development of emerging advanced technologies, test and training infrastructure and instrumentation must be modernized.
· European Reassurance Initiative: $792 million to fund construction projects in support of U.S. allies through the European Reassurance Initiative.
· Overseas Contingency Operations: $129 million for construction projects in direct support of military operations in the Middle East.
· Military Family Housing: $1.6 billion for construction, operation and maintenance of military family housing, which is $173 million above the FY2018 level. The bill includes construction funding for nine family housing projects.
· Military Medical Facilities: $366million for construction or alteration of military medical facilities. This funding will allow for continued support and care for 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries, including wounded U.S. troops abroad.
· Department of Defense Education Facilities: $388million for essential safety improvements and infrastructure work at four overseas military schools.
· Guard and Reserve: $487million to support the construction needs of National Guard and Reserve forces.
· NATO Security Investment Program: $171 million to provide infrastructure for training, deterrence, and the NATO Alliance’s response to challenges posed by Russia and threats from the Middle East and North Africa.