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Friday, February 19, 2010

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations

Daniel H. Else, Coordinator
Specialist in National Defense

Christine Scott
Specialist in Social Policy

Sidath Viranga Panangala
Analyst in Veterans Policy

The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill provides funding for the planning, design, construction, alteration, and improvement of facilities used by active and reserve military components worldwide. It capitalizes military family housing and the U.S. share of the NATO Security Investment Program, and finances the implementation of installation closures and realignments. It underwrites veterans benefit and health care programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides for the creation and maintenance of U.S. cemeteries and battlefield monuments within the United States and abroad, and supports the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and Armed Forces Retirement Homes. The bill also funds construction supporting Overseas Military Operations, a function previously carried out through emergency supplemental appropriations, and advance appropriations for veterans medical services. 

Rather than submit a complete appropriations request for FY2010 only five weeks after taking office, President Barack Obama published a budget overview, A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America's Promise, on February 26, 2009. The President submitted his regular FY2010 appropriations request to Congress on May 7, 2009, including $133.5 billion for programs covered in the regular Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies appropriations bill: $24.4 billion for Title I (military construction and family housing); $108.9 billion for Title II (veterans affairs); and $275.7 million for Title III (related agencies). Compared with funding appropriated for FY2009, this represented decreases for Title I of $3.7 billion (13.4%), and increases for Title II of $12.9 billion (13.5%) and for Title III of $69.0 million (33.3%). The overall increase in appropriations between that requested for FY2010 and enacted for FY2009 was $9.2 billion (7.4%). The enacted bill (P.L. 111-117) appropriated $23.3 billion for Title I, $157.8 billion for Title II, $280.7 million for Title III, and $1.2 billion for Title IV (Overseas Contingency Operations construction included in Title I of the President's request). 

Military construction is experiencing an overall decrease in spending as the annual appropriation required to implement the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment round begins to drop off. Also, appropriations dedicated to the construction and operation of military family housing are decreasing as its privatization program expands. 

In the area of veterans' non-medical benefits, mandatory spending is increasing as claims for disability compensation, pension, and readjustment benefits increase due to a combination of several factors including the aging of the veterans' population and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, the average number of days for completing a pension or compensation claim in FY2008 was 179 days. To reduce the pending claims workload and improve processing time, funds have been provided in previous appropriation bills for hiring and training additional claims processing staff. 

The House version of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Act for 2010 (H.R. 3082) was passed by the House on July 10, 2009, and sent to the Senate. The Senate passed an amended version of the bill on November 17, 2009. H.R. 3082 was subsequently incorporated as Div. E of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3288). 

Date of Report: February 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R40731
Price: $29.95

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