The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill provides $142.0 billion in discretionary and mandatory budget authority for fiscal year 2012. Discretionary budget authority [BA] totals $72.5 billion including an advance appropriation for veterans health care passed in the fiscal year 2011 bill. The appropriated BA also includes entitlement spending of $69.5 billion for veterans benefit programs. The spending levels in the bill do not exceed the 302(b) allocations adopted by the Appropriations Committee which are consistent with the overall spending level approved by the House in the Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 34).
The measure provides funding for military construction, family housing, and base realignment and closure; and for veterans disability benefits, health care, and readjustment benefits. Key elements include the following:
Military Construction and Family Housing. The bill provides $14.1 billion for these accounts, $753 million less than the President’s request and $2.6 billion below the 2011 enacted level. Most of the savings are achieved through a $1.9 billion reduction in spending for the transition costs related to the 2005 round of the Base Realignment and Closure process and $400 million in rescissions of unobligated balances. In past years this bill has also provided funds related to the Global War on Terrorism. No such funds were requested for FY 12 and none are provided.
Veterans Affairs. Including the fiscal year 2012 “advance appropriations” from the recently enacted 2011 Full-Year Continuing Resolution (H.R. 1473), the bill funds the VA at $500 million below the President’s requested level. This represents an increase of 3 percent over the 2011 enacted discretionary level. The bill also fully funds the estimated cost of VA entitlement programs including disability compensation, pensions, and readjustment benefits.
Advance Appropriations. This bill continues the recent practice of advance appropriations – providing BA for a year after the budget year – with $52.5 billion in fiscal year 2013 spending for Veterans Medical Services, Medical Support, and Medical Facilities. Because these funds are being made available for a year other than the budget year, the Congressional Budget Office does not charge them toward spending levels in this bill. For 2013, however, the advances for these three accounts represent a 4% increase over the comparable levels for FY 12. These advances are equal to the amount provided under the House-passed Budget Resolution and the President’s request.
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