The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies approved its Fiscal Year 2021 funding legislation for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by voice vote today. The bill features a 12.4 percent increase in IT modernization funding for the agency.
The legislation budgets $104.8 billion in discretionary funding for VA – a $12.3 billion boost from FY2020’s enacted level, but $35 million under the President’s request. Despite the slight difference between the executive and legislative totals, the House subcommittee did match the White House request for $4.9 billion toward IT modernization projects.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, we are making unprecedented investments in our veterans through our VA medical system to ensure that every veteran has access to the top-notch health care that they deserve,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chairwoman of the subcommittee, said. “The MilCon/VA bill includes historic spending for women veterans, mental health, suicide prevention, medical research, and homeless prevention, while closely monitoring VA claims processing and system modernizations.”
House appropriators want to funnel $2.6 billion – $1.1 billion more than the President requested – into VA’s electronic health record systems to continue implementation and provide Government Accountability Office (GAO) oversight of the program. Legislators have been critical of funding the program in the past because of continuing schedule delays.
On top of FY2021 funding, the legislation also provides VA with $12.5 billion in emergency spending to supplement the agency’s response to COVID-19, with provisions to direct the funds toward electronic health records, IT, medical care, and other services.
Next, the legislation heads to the full Appropriations Committee for another markup.