[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 79 (Wednesday, May 18, 2016)]
[House]
[Pages H2813-H2842]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES 
                        APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2017


                             General Leave

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
include extraneous material on H.R. 4974, and that I may include 
tabular material on the same.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania?
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 736 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the state of the Union for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 4974.
  The Chair appoints the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Collins) to 
preside over the Committee of the Whole.

                              {time}  2209


                     In the Committee of the Whole

  Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the 
Whole House on the state of the Union for the consideration of the bill 
(H.R. 4974) making appropriations for military construction, the 
Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal 
year ending September 30, 2017, and for other purposes, with Mr. 
Collins of Georgia in the chair.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to the rule, the bill is considered read the 
first time.
  The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent) and the gentleman from 
Georgia (Mr. Bishop) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania.

                              {time}  2210

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Today, it is my honor and privilege to bring H.R. 4974, the fiscal 
year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act to the House for consideration.
  I present this bill alongside my very good friend and ranking member 
of the subcommittee, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Bishop), who has 
been an essential partner all along the way. I greatly appreciate the 
participation and support of our committee members on both sides of the 
aisle as we considered priorities and funding levels for the important 
programs in our bill.
  We analyzed the budget request, developed questions, and held 
oversight hearings to get direct feedback from members of all the 
services, the Department of Defense leadership, the Secretary of the 
VA, and the VA inspector general. We received over 1,000 requests from 
Members, again, from both sides of the aisle, and we gave them full and 
fair consideration.
  The bill is also the product of actively listening to the concerns of 
our veterans and veteran advocates, servicemembers, spouses, 
caregivers, military family members, and healthcare providers both 
within and outside the VA over the past year.
  As we consider this bill, I can't proceed further without noting that 
this subcommittee has a formidable level of support from the chair and 
ranking member of the full committee. So I thank Chairman Rogers and 
the ranking member, Mrs. Lowey. Their attention, oversight, and genuine 
care for the military and veterans has been inspiring.
  To round out the team, we have some great support from our 
professional staff: Maureen Holohan, Sue Quantius, Sarah Young, Tracey 
Russell, and Matt Washington on the committee staff; and Sean Snyder, 
Drew Kent, and Heather Smith on my personal staff. I would also like to 
note Michael Reed and Michael Calcagni with Mr. Bishop of Georgia's 
office. We couldn't do it without them.
  I would also like to note the retirement of the senior member of our 
subcommittee, Sam Farr. He has been on this subcommittee since 1999. In 
our full committee meeting, we went into detail about Sam's 
accomplishments on this subcommittee, including being the architect of 
the Monterey model, which is now the benchmark for successful public-
private partnership in a community with a base closure. Sam, wherever 
you may be, your commitment, passion, and good humor will be missed. 
All the best to you in your pending retirement.
  H.R. 4974 demonstrates our firm commitment to fully supporting our 
Nation's veterans and servicemembers. Our investment of $81.6 billion 
for military construction, VA, and related agencies, $1.2 billion over 
last year's level, is unprecedented. The bill addresses issues to help 
veterans in every part of the country--every congressional district--
and our troops around the world.
  This bill provides comprehensive support for servicemembers, military 
families, and veterans. It supports our troops with the facilities and 
services necessary to maintain readiness and morale at bases here in 
the States and overseas. It provides for Defense Department schools and 
health clinics that take care of our military families.
  The bill funds our veteran healthcare systems to ensure that our 
promise to care for those who sacrificed in defense of this great 
Nation continues as those men and women return home. We owe this to our 
veterans and are committed to sustained oversight so that programs 
deliver what they promise and taxpayers are well served by the 
investments we make.
  On the military construction side, the bill provides a total of $7.9 
billion for military construction projects and family housing, 
including base and overseas contingency operations funding, OCO 
funding--an increase of $250 million over the President's request.
  This funding meets DOD's most critical needs, including priority 
projects for combatant commanders and funding new mission requirements.
  It provides $304 million for military medical facilities. It provides 
$246 million for Department of Defense educational facilities, for 
construction or renovation of four schools. It supports our Guard and 
Reserve through $673 million for facilities in 21 States.
  It includes $514 million for projects from the Department of 
Defense's unfunded priority list, benefiting the most critical 
projects--as identified by the services--that were not included in the 
budget request.

[[Page H2814]]

  It fully funds military family housing at $1.3 million. It provides 
$178 million for the NATO Security Investment Program, which is $43 
million over last year's level, to deal with increasing threats and 
necessary investments overseas.
  On Veterans Affairs, this legislation includes a total of $176 
billion in combined discretionary and mandatory funding for the 
Department of Veterans Affairs.
  Discretionary funding alone for Veterans programs in the bill is 
$73.5 billion. Total fiscal year 2017 discretionary funding is $2 
billion above fiscal year 2016, which is a 3 percent increase, and $1.5 
billion below the budget request. Within that total, VA medical care is 
provided with $64 billion, a 5 percent increase over last year--again, 
a 5 percent increase over last year for VA medical care.
  Again, on VA medical services, the bill funds VA medical services at 
$52.5 billion. That includes $850 million that VA came back and asked 
for this year, on top of the advanced funding provided last year.
  Many Members expressed concerns about medical services, and we were 
able to fully fund the budget request for hepatitis C at $1.5 billion. 
We are paying for treatments for so many of our veterans who are being 
cured from this horrible disease of hepatitis C. The drugs are very 
expensive. They have come down in price a bit, and that has helped us 
serve more veterans.
  Veterans homelessness is at $1.6 billion, long-term care at $8.6 
billion, caregiver stipends at $725 million, and Office of Inspector 
General is at $160 million.
  For disability claims, we provide the full request for the Veterans 
Benefits Administration, which is a $118 million increase over fiscal 
year 2016, and the full budget request for the Board of Veterans 
Appeals, which is a $46 million increase.
  The bill will enhance transparency and accountability at the VA 
through further oversight and an increase for the VA Office of 
Inspector General's independent audits and investigations.
  The legislation also contains $260 million for the modernization of 
the VA electronic health record and includes restricting all of the 
funding until the VA meets milestones and certifies interoperability to 
meet statutory requirements.
  Major construction, we continue to focus on major construction 
oversight. The bill includes language that will hold back 100 percent 
of the funding for the largest construction projects until VA contracts 
for outside Federal management, and we maintain strict restrictions on 
transfers, use of bid savings, and scope changes.
  The bill provides $528 million for major construction projects in 
Reno, Nevada; Long Beach, California; as well as cemeteries in Florida, 
New York, and Colorado.
  We include bill language regarding improved standards for the suicide 
hotline and certification of mental health therapists to expand access 
for veterans who need their care. I don't need to explain to anybody in 
this body this great need here to help with the mental health needs of 
so many of our veterans.

                              {time}  2220

  VA performance awards. The bill prohibits all performance awards for 
VA senior executives. This was in response to multiple Member requests 
to restrict bonuses of various types at the VA. I understand this is 
controversial. But given the horrendous mismanagement that we have seen 
at many of the VA facilities across the country, we were compelled to 
send a strong message about accountability. The prohibition we included 
has passed as a floor amendment several years in a row, so that is why 
it is included in the base bill this year.
  I will tell you that we have, obviously, many great and wonderful 
employees at the VA who are doing their best every day to provide for 
our veterans, whether it is through benefits or through the health 
system or on their educational needs, so I wanted to make sure that we 
make that point. But there is a need for some accountability, and that 
is why we had to insert this particular provision.
  We have received some unfounded criticism from the administration for 
the actions that we have taken. The administration may not be happy 
with any change to its budget proposal. But this bill provides very 
generous funding that adheres to the law and our responsibility to 
practice fiscal responsibility.
  Overall, with this bill and the funds that were provided in advance 
last year, for fiscal year 2017, the VA will have available 98 percent 
of what it asked for--98 percent of what they asked for is provided. I 
would wager that there won't be another Department in that enviable 
position. This shows the level of commitment we have to our veterans 
and their families. I think that should be noted. So despite any 
criticism, we should all be proud of this bill and what we have done in 
it.
  Let me tell you, I can say with absolute certainty, the VA's problems 
stem from poor management and not too little money. We continue to push 
for better management, and the Secretary has replaced most of the 
senior managers at headquarters and in the field.
  So many VA employees, as I mentioned earlier, are deeply committed--
overwhelmingly, they are committed--to the veteran. They are talented, 
and they work very hard. I have met these folks, and I appreciate them 
very much. I visit with them in eastern Pennsylvania on a regular basis 
and in south central Pennsylvania.
  But the ``corrosive culture'' that has been cited at the VA remains 
the root of VA's problem.
  I want to briefly discuss the Choice Act or, as we call it, the 
VACAA, a little bit. I, and probably all of you, fully support the 
Choice Act, and want veterans to have access to quality health care at 
a convenient location for them. Veterans want to be served. They want 
to be taken care of in the communities where they live. It is better 
for the veteran. It is better for the family. And we want to make sure 
our veterans have access to some of the finest health care institutions 
in the world that may not be part of the VA system. We need to do that.
  The Choice Act was so popular that it brought a lot of demand to the 
VA, and the VA has been spending both Choice Act funds and 
discretionary funds to meet the increased demand.
  The Choice Act expires at the end of fiscal year 2017, and its 
funding is being depleted sooner than that. Some of the Choice programs 
are already out of money, and others will be out of money halfway 
through the year.
  For example, the Choice Act hires of medical professionals to cut the 
backlog of appointments runs out of funds to pay those people halfway 
through the year. We--and when I say we, that is discretionary 
appropriations--are picking up a $600 million tab to pay them through 
the end of fiscal year 2017. It is the right thing to do, but it is not 
something that we had planned for.
  There will be unprecedented and massive demands on the discretionary 
side to continue programs started with a $15 billion surge of emergency 
funding a few years ago through the VACAA. That is a huge issue for 
fiscal year 2018. Right now, it is incumbent on Congress to reform VA 
health care with a responsible plan that meets the needs of veterans in 
a sustainable manner, and I hope that we can take that matter very 
seriously. It will be a huge issue next year, and it is an issue 
already this year.
  With respect to the related agencies, we fund the American Battle 
Monuments Commission, the Armed Forces Retirement Home, Arlington 
National Cemetery, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans at the 
requested funding levels, which total $241 million.
  In closing, this is a very solid, bipartisan bill that is focused on 
the needs of servicemembers, veterans, and, most especially, all their 
families. We are $1.8 billion over the fiscal year 2016 level. That is 
more than a 2 percent increase. We have provided for our military and 
veterans to the very best level we can in a manner that is fiscally 
responsible and consistent with the budget agreement we enacted into 
law last year.
  Did we fund every last dime requested? No. But not every idea has 
merit, and not every project is mission critical. We did not fund some 
projects, we cut some requested increases, and we rescinded funds. 
These were fair decisions and part of our responsibility, as 
appropriators.
  We will do a lot of good with this bill. It is fair. It is balanced. 
It is generous.

[[Page H2815]]

And on behalf of our servicemembers, military families, and veterans, I 
urge support for this legislation. Let's take care of those who have 
sacrificed for our country.
  Again, I would like to thank everybody for their help and support 
along the way with this bill, both all of the Members and staff.
  I reserve the balance of my time.

[[Page H2816]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TH180516.003



[[Page H2817]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TH180516.004



[[Page H2818]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TH180516.005



[[Page H2819]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TH180516.006



[[Page H2820]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TH180516.007



[[Page H2821]]

  

  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chair, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  I would like to begin by thanking Mrs. Lowey and Mr. Rogers, who 
serve as the distinguished ranking member and chairman of the full 
committee, and, of course, Chairman Dent, my colleague, on the Military 
Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. I 
couldn't have a better, more collaborative partner in support of our 
military and our veterans, and I really appreciate the collegiality.
  And certainly I want to thank our staff. From the minority staff, I 
would like to thank Matt Washington, as well as Mike Reed and Mike 
Calcagni from my personal office. From the majority committee staff, I 
would like to thank Maureen Holohan, Sue Quantius, Sarah Young, Tracey 
Russell, and Sean Snyder from Chairman Dent's office.
  As you all know, this bill has a strong history.
  Before I begin, I really also want to share the comments and the 
accolades and salutations for our colleague from California, Sam Farr, 
who is retiring from the committee; and this, of course, will be his 
last MILCON/VA bill. He has been a longstanding member of this 
committee, very insightful, compassionate, and pragmatic. We are 
certainly going to miss Sam with his valuable, valuable contributions.
  I would like to point out that this bill has a strong history of 
finding common ground and bipartisan support across the aisle to 
provide resources for our men and women in uniform who have chosen to 
serve and to protect our great Nation's way of life and our individual 
freedoms.
  With this bill, we fund military construction projects in the 
Department of Veterans Affairs to the benefit of our soldiers, sailors, 
airmen, and marines, both past and present.
  For those who have given so much of themselves, we owe a great deal. 
So let me start our consideration of the Military Construction and 
Veterans Affairs appropriations bill by recognizing those in our 
military who cannot be with us here tonight as they serve across the 
globe. Thank you for your service.
  The account taking care of the construction of military facilities is 
provided $7.7 billion, an increase of $250 million above the fiscal 
year 2017 budget request. Overall, the Department of Veterans Affairs 
is funded at $73.5 billion, which is $2.5 billion above the FY16-
enacted level, and $1.4 billion below the FY17 request.
  I am pleased with several aspects of the bill. As we saw throughout 
the markup process, the bill provides robust funding for our military 
construction and provides adequate funding for both active and reserve 
military forces.
  I was pleased that the bill provides $25 million above the FY17 
budget request to help speed up the cleanup of former Department of 
Defense sites.
  For too long, we have been waiting for an end to the tunnel for the 
electronic health records integration between the Department of Defense 
and the VA. To strengthen oversight on the issue, I am pleased to see 
the bill maintains tough, but fair, reporting requirements for the 
electronic health records endeavor. To better serve those veterans 
shortchanged for too long, the bill continues to prioritize the 
elimination of the VA's claims backlog and includes healthy funding for 
the Board of Veterans' Appeals, though I am concerned with the proposed 
reforms to the BVA.

                              {time}  2230

  Nonetheless, I believe these are positive steps that are necessary to 
ensure that the VA continues to improve its service for our veterans.
  Mr. Chair, while the MILCON-VA bill has many positive attributes, one 
item I am not particularly pleased about is the inclusion of bill 
language that limits performance awards. As I have stated for the past 
3 years, this language will not provide a short-term solution and, in 
fact, may have long-term consequences, compounding the very problem 
that it attempts to address. All this language will do is make the VA a 
less attractive option than other agencies when it comes to recruiting 
and retaining quality executive leaders, resulting in the Department's 
not having the very talent that it needs to solve the problems it faces 
today. This is an issue that must be addressed as we move through this 
process.
  Turning away from the bill for a second, our committee was off to a 
very fast start. However, because of the budget resolution impasse, we 
have had to wait a month for the MILCON-VA bill to be able to come to 
the floor. As a result, we will not be able to get back to regular 
order this year, and with roughly 45 days left in the legislative 
calendar, it will be nearly impossible to fulfill our obligation to the 
American people and pass all 12 bills through the House. We are in this 
situation because an upset, small minority of the House wants to 
revisit issues that were already decided and acted upon by a bipartisan 
majority of both Houses and signed into law by the President.
  That being said, I applaud Chairman Rogers for honoring the 
allocation the bipartisan budget agreement set for fiscal year 2017. 
The BBA will have to suffice until we can get past these unrealistic 
beliefs that we can cut our way to prosperity.
  As we are all aware of our level of discretionary resources this 
year, it will be tough, especially tough for this subcommittee, because 
our bill advances funds to the medical services account. While we start 
out in the hole every year, the VA's annual second bite of the apple 
makes balancing the needs of nonmedical VA services with other Federal 
agencies that much more difficult. As I have said numerous times, we 
must be more strategic about how we handle our Federal budget.
  Mr. Chair, would I have done some things differently? Of course, but 
here we are.
  Nevertheless, with reservations, I urge my colleagues to defeat any 
poison pill amendments and move to support this bill to fund the 
construction of military facilities and strive to improve the quality 
of life and the care afforded to current servicemembers, to our 
veterans, and to our military families.
  Mr. Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield such time as he may consume to the 
gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. Rogers), the distinguished chairman of the 
full committee.
  Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I thank the chairman for yielding the time.
  Mr. Chair, I rise tonight to support this first bill of the 2017 
appropriations cycle. Shepherding through appropriations legislation is 
the constitutional duty of the Congress, and so here we go.
  The passage of these bills in a timely fashion is in the best 
interest of the Nation. It will help provide for our national security, 
the stability of our economy, and give certainty to all Americans who 
count on the Federal Government's programs and services. I believe this 
bill, in particular, starts off this process on the right foot.
  H.R. 4974 is a balanced, bipartisan piece of legislation that 
provides critical funding for our troops, their families, and our 
veterans. We have made a commitment to our servicemen and -women that 
we will care for them during and after their service, and this bill 
helps fulfill that promise.
  In total, as you have heard, the bill provides $81.6 billion in 
discretionary funding for the Department of Defense infrastructure and 
quality-of-life programs as well as for the Department of Veterans 
Affairs. This represents a $1.8 billion increase above current levels. 
This increase is directed to Veterans Affairs programs, which receive a 
3 percent bump above fiscal year 2016 levels.
  Of the total $73.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
$52.5 billion will support the VA's medical services, which is funding 
that will treat some 7 million patients this year. In particular, I 
want to highlight funding increases that will address mental health 
care, suicide prevention, hepatitis C treatment, and homelessness. The 
increase will also help the VA tackle some of its greatest challenges--
reducing the disability claims backlog and continuing the modernization 
of the electronic health records system to ensure no gaps in care occur 
as our current troops become veterans.
  This bill also provides funding to support our Active Duty military 
and their families whether they are at home or abroad. Funding for 
hospitals, educational facilities, and housing tells our servicemembers 
that they have the full backing of their government as they lay their 
lives on the lines for this

[[Page H2822]]

Nation. Beyond these quality-of-life programs, military construction 
funding is prioritized to respond to threats around the globe, 
including Russia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
  While overall funding is increased in the bill, the committee took 
many steps to ensure that every cent of taxpayers' money is spent 
responsibly and with good purpose. We made difficult decisions to find 
savings wherever possible. The bill also includes good-government 
provisions that increase oversight for the VA, helping to stop waste 
and improve service for our veterans.
  Mr. Chair, this is a very good bill, one I am proud to support. I 
want to thank the chairman of the subcommittee, Congressman Dent, for 
his leadership. I want to thank the ranking member, Mr. Bishop, and the 
rest of the subcommittee for their teamwork and their effort in 
bringing the bill to the floor today.
  Lastly, I join the chair and ranking member in thanking the staff for 
the many hours they put in helping to usher this bill to the floor 
today. Caring for our troops and veterans is a great responsibility, 
and the subcommittee and our staff have not taken that responsibility 
lightly.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill. It is balanced; it is 
responsible; and it needs to be passed.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chair, I yield 5 minutes to the 
gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Lowey), the distinguished ranking 
member of the Committee on Appropriations.
  Mrs. LOWEY. I thank the distinguished ranking member of this 
committee, Mr. Sanford Bishop, for that very generous introduction.
  I would like to thank my good friend on the other side of the aisle, 
Chairman Dent from the neighboring State of Pennsylvania, for his good 
work and the partnership that he has made to make this an excellent 
bill. I also want to thank Chairman Rogers for his leadership and, of 
course, for the hard work of the committee members on both sides of the 
aisle who are so critical to this process.
  Mr. Chair, the fiscal year 2017 Military Construction-Veterans 
Affairs bill would allocate $81.6 billion in discretionary funding--
$1.2 billion less than the fiscal year 2017 budget request and a $1.8 
billion increase above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level--and allow 
for several critical improvements, including: the further reduction of 
the veterans' claims backlog, which has dropped from 600,000 to 74,000 
in the past 2 years; $7.8 billion to support outreach, prevention, and 
awareness to reduce unacceptably high levels of suicide and other 
mental health challenges among our veterans; a greater focus on the 
gender-specific needs of female veterans, including prosthetics 
designed for women and enhancing access to both medical health 
services; a $32 million increase for medical and prosthetic research; 
$1.3 billion for family housing construction; and strong oversight of 
the electronic health records system, requiring that the VA meet key 
benchmarks throughout the fiscal year and improve interoperability with 
the Department of Defense.

                              {time}  2240

  Mr. Speaker, as I close, I want to again congratulate Chairman Dent 
and Ranking Member Bishop for you are truly outstanding in making this 
a good, bipartisan bill.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Arkansas 
(Mr. Hill).
  Mr. HILL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the bill. Over the past 
few years, we have seen mismanagement, cost overruns, and project 
delays at our Veterans Affairs facilities and hospitals across this 
country.
  While the biggest construction failures are the ones that have 
gathered the headlines, such as the billion-dollar cost overrun in 
Colorado, the VA has a knack for dropping the ball on simple and 
smaller projects as well. One of these is an $8 million ongoing solar 
panel project at the VA Medical Center in Little Rock. It has been 3 
years since the planned activation of the system. However, engineering 
changes and the relocation of the panels to make way for a new parking 
garage, which was even known in advance of the award, has cost valuable 
taxpayer resources.
  Last year, I sent a letter, along with Senator John Boozman, to the 
VA Office of the Inspector General calling for an investigation into 
this solar panel project, which resulted in the VA Inspector General 
conducting a national review of all the solar panel projects across the 
VA.
  While this review is being finalized, many questions remain 
unanswered about these solar projects. Currently, the VA lists 34 key 
renewable energy projects dating back to 2010 that remain 
nonoperational.
  Today's bill contains an important provision in the report language 
that will protect the taxpayer dollars by prohibiting funding for solar 
projects at the VA due to these concerns about the mismanagement in 
these projects.
  I am pleased that the committee has included this essential language 
as we await the results from the VA Inspector General's investigation 
into these costly projects.
  This small piece is an important part of the overall reevaluation of 
the VA's construction oversight and implementation that Congress has 
developed and that taxpayers deserve.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  With reservations, I urge my colleagues to support this bill. I think 
it is a bipartisan bill. It is a good bill. I think it is a good 
product for what we had to work with.
  I would like to urge my colleagues to support it, to fund the 
construction of newer facilities, to strive to improve the quality of 
life and the care that we give to our military, to our veterans, and to 
our military families.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I would like to conclude by saying that I want to thank everyone 
again for their full cooperation on both sides of the aisle: Mr. 
Bishop, Mrs. Lowey, and the entire team on their side, and Mr. Rogers 
on our side, and all the members of the subcommittee on both sides.
  This bill does provide for our veterans, our military, our 
servicemembers, and their families. It is a very good bill. I urge its 
adoption.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. All time for general debate has expired.
  Pursuant to the rule, the bill shall be considered for amendment 
under the 5-minute rule.
  During consideration of the bill for amendment, each amendment shall 
be debatable for 10 minutes equally divided and controlled by the 
proponent and an opponent. No pro forma amendment shall be in order 
except that the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on 
Appropriations or their respective designees may offer up to 10 pro 
forma amendments each at any point for the purpose of debate. The chair 
of the Committee of the Whole may accord priority in recognition on the 
basis of whether the Member offering an amendment has caused it to be 
printed in the portion of the Congressional Record designated for that 
purpose. Amendments so printed shall be considered read.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 4974

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the 
     following sums are appropriated, out of any money in the 
     Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for military 
     construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related 
     agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017, and 
     for other purposes, namely:

                                TITLE I

                         DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

                      Military Construction, Army

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, military 
     installations, facilities, and real property for the Army as 
     currently authorized by law, including personnel in the Army 
     Corps of Engineers and other personal services necessary for 
     the purposes of this appropriation, and for construction and 
     operation of facilities in support of the functions of the 
     Commander in Chief, $503,459,000, to remain available until 
     September 30, 2021: Provided, That, of this amount, not to 
     exceed $98,159,000 shall be available for study, planning, 
     design, architect and engineer services, and host nation 
     support, as authorized by law, unless the Secretary of the 
     Army determines that additional obligations are necessary for 
     such purposes and notifies the Committees on Appropriations 
     of both Houses of Congress of the determination and the 
     reasons therefor.

[[Page H2823]]

  


              Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, naval installations, 
     facilities, and real property for the Navy and Marine Corps 
     as currently authorized by law, including personnel in the 
     Naval Facilities Engineering Command and other personal 
     services necessary for the purposes of this appropriation, 
     $1,021,580,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021: 
     Provided, That, of this amount, not to exceed $88,230,000 
     shall be available for study, planning, design, and architect 
     and engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the 
     Secretary of the Navy determines that additional obligations 
     are necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees 
     on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor.

                    Military Construction, Air Force

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, military 
     installations, facilities, and real property for the Air 
     Force as currently authorized by law, $1,398,758,000, to 
     remain available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That of 
     this amount, not to exceed $143,582,000 shall be available 
     for study, planning, design, and architect and engineer 
     services, as authorized by law, unless the Secretary of the 
     Air Force determines that additional obligations are 
     necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor: Provided further, 
     That none of the funds made available under this heading 
     shall be for construction of the Joint Intelligence Analysis 
     Complex Consolidation, Phase 3, at Royal Air Force Croughton, 
     United Kingdom, unless authorized in an Act authorizing 
     appropriations for fiscal year 2017 for military 
     construction.

                  Military Construction, Defense-Wide

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, installations, 
     facilities, and real property for activities and agencies of 
     the Department of Defense (other than the military 
     departments), as currently authorized by law, $2,024,643,000, 
     to remain available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That 
     such amounts of this appropriation as may be determined by 
     the Secretary of Defense may be transferred to such 
     appropriations of the Department of Defense available for 
     military construction or family housing as the Secretary may 
     designate, to be merged with and to be available for the same 
     purposes, and for the same time period, as the appropriation 
     or fund to which transferred: Provided further, That of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $201,422,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Secretary 
     of Defense determines that additional obligations are 
     necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor.


                    Amendment Offered by Mrs. Wagner

  Mrs. WAGNER. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:
       Page 4, line 20, after the dollar amount, insert ``(reduced 
     by $801,000) (increased by $801,000)''.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentlewoman from 
Missouri and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Missouri.
  Mrs. WAGNER. Mr. Chair, I thank Chairman Dent for letting me offer 
this very important amendment. I thank my colleagues from the entire 
Missouri delegation--Mr. Clay, Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Graves, Ms. Hartzler, 
Mr. Long, Mr. Luetkemeyer, and Mr. Smith--for their steadfast support 
and bipartisan cosponsorship.
  This amendment is critical to meeting the current and future mission 
requirements of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and its 
replacement West headquarters in north St. Louis.
  This amendment allocates $801,000 for land and transfer acquisition 
activities associated with acquiring the land for the headquarters, 
conforming with the Senate's MILCON-VA bill.
  After an exhaustive process, the NGA identified the north St. Louis 
city site as a superior location because of its ability to provide the 
most technological, academic, and professional environment for the 
agency to develop the capabilities and solutions necessary to solve the 
country's most vital intelligence and national security challenges.
  Mr. Chair, the City of St. Louis is providing the land for this 
project at no cost to the Federal Government. Its selection ensures 
that NGA West's 70-year history in St. Louis continues and that the 
2,000 NGA West employees who live in Missouri remain in close proximity 
to the headquarters.
  The St. Louis region has a proven track record in national defense 
and technology capabilities that make it an ideal choice for NGA's new 
home.
  I ask that my colleagues vote in favor of this amendment to ensure 
NGA West can continue to perform its critical role in our national 
security within a community that understands its needs and strongly 
supports its mission.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Missouri's First 
District (Mr. Clay).

                              {time}  2250

  Mr. CLAY. Mr. Chair, I want to thank the gentlewoman from Missouri 
(Mrs. Wagner) for yielding. I rise today in strong support of this 
amendment as offered by Mrs. Wagner.
  The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's decision to locate 
their new western headquarters in north St. Louis was the right choice 
to support their vital national security mission, the best decision for 
the over 3,000 exceptional Federal employees who work there, and it 
will transform a great Federal failure into a transformational Federal 
success.
  The misguided and shortsighted attempt to withhold funding from this 
project not only is petty and parochial, it is completely irresponsible 
because delaying this project would put our national security at risk. 
NGA Director Robert Cardillo said it best in his message to his 
employees on April 1.
  Director Cardillo said: ``The future of our agency and our profession 
rests on our present talent and that of the next generations we can 
recruit onto our team. We face tough competition, and offering an 
environment that appeals to these future generations is critical to our 
success. Studies point to a desire by today's millennials to be in 
urban environments, and this trend is expected to continue.''
  He went on to say: ``Our partnership with industry and academia will 
continue to grow and expand as we transform some of our work to a more 
open, connected and transparent environment. Our ability to engage with 
local universities and innovative, technology-based companies is 
enhanced by remaining in St. Louis city. I am confident that we will 
build a facility in St. Louis that will be a remarkable home for us to 
master our craft and engage with our partners in a flexible, 
technologically advanced environment that is enticing to current and 
future generations.''
  I urge my colleagues to support the gentlewoman's amendment.
  Mrs. WAGNER. Mr. Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. Does any Member claim time in opposition?
  Mrs. WAGNER. Mr. Chair, in closing, I just want to say that NGA chose 
St. Louis because the location best supports the agency's mission.
  The superiority of the urban setting is ideal for recruiting and 
retaining a highly skilled workforce. When focusing on the most 
technological, academic, and professional environment to ensure our 
Nation's security, the NGA chose St. Louis. The decision has been made, 
and my amendment supports the NGA's decision.
  Mr. Chair, I thank the chairman and my colleague from the First 
District of Missouri.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentlewoman from Missouri (Mrs. Wagner).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

               Military Construction, Army National Guard

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Army National Guard, and contributions 
     therefor, as authorized by chapter 1803 of title 10, United 
     States Code, and Military Construction Authorization Acts, 
     $232,930,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021: 
     Provided, That, of the amount appropriated, not to exceed 
     $8,729,000 shall be available for study, planning, design, 
     and architect and engineer services, as authorized by law, 
     unless the Director of the Army National Guard determines 
     that additional obligations are necessary for such purposes 
     and notifies the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses 
     of Congress of the determination and the reasons therefor.

[[Page H2824]]

  


               Military Construction, Air National Guard

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Air National Guard, and contributions 
     therefor, as authorized by chapter 1803 of title 10, United 
     States Code, and Military Construction Authorization Acts, 
     $143,957,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021: 
     Provided, That, of the amount appropriated, not to exceed 
     $10,462,000 shall be available for study, planning, design, 
     and architect and engineer services, as authorized by law, 
     unless the Director of the Air National Guard determines that 
     additional obligations are necessary for such purposes and 
     notifies the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress of the determination and the reasons therefor.

                  Military Construction, Army Reserve

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Army Reserve as authorized by chapter 
     1803 of title 10, United States Code, and Military 
     Construction Authorization Acts, $68,230,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That, of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $7,500,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Chief of 
     the Army Reserve determines that additional obligations are 
     necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor.

                  Military Construction, Navy Reserve

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the reserve components of the Navy and 
     Marine Corps as authorized by chapter 1803 of title 10, 
     United States Code, and Military Construction Authorization 
     Acts, $38,597,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2021: Provided, That, of the amount appropriated, not to 
     exceed $3,783,000 shall be available for study, planning, 
     design, and architect and engineer services, as authorized by 
     law, unless the Secretary of the Navy determines that 
     additional obligations are necessary for such purposes and 
     notifies the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress of the determination and the reasons therefor.

                Military Construction, Air Force Reserve

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Air Force Reserve as authorized by 
     chapter 1803 of title 10, United States Code, and Military 
     Construction Authorization Acts, $188,950,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That, of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $4,500,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Chief of 
     the Air Force Reserve determines that additional obligations 
     are necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees 
     on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor.

                   North Atlantic Treaty Organization

                      Security Investment Program

       For the United States share of the cost of the North 
     Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment Program for 
     the acquisition and construction of military facilities and 
     installations (including international military headquarters) 
     and for related expenses for the collective defense of the 
     North Atlantic Treaty Area as authorized by section 2806 of 
     title 10, United States Code, and Military Construction 
     Authorization Acts, $177,932,000, to remain available until 
     expended.

                   Family Housing Construction, Army

       For expenses of family housing for the Army for 
     construction, including acquisition, replacement, addition, 
     expansion, extension, and alteration, as authorized by law, 
     $200,735,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021.

             Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Army

       For expenses of family housing for the Army for operation 
     and maintenance, including debt payment, leasing, minor 
     construction, principal and interest charges, and insurance 
     premiums, as authorized by law, $325,995,000.

           Family Housing Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       For expenses of family housing for the Navy and Marine 
     Corps for construction, including acquisition, replacement, 
     addition, expansion, extension, and alteration, as authorized 
     by law, $94,011,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2021.

    Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Navy and Marine Corps

       For expenses of family housing for the Navy and Marine 
     Corps for operation and maintenance, including debt payment, 
     leasing, minor construction, principal and interest charges, 
     and insurance premiums, as authorized by law, $300,915,000.

                 Family Housing Construction, Air Force

        For expenses of family housing for the Air Force for 
     construction, including acquisition, replacement, addition, 
     expansion, extension, and alteration, as authorized by law, 
     $61,352,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021.

          Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Air Force

       For expenses of family housing for the Air Force for 
     operation and maintenance, including debt payment, leasing, 
     minor construction, principal and interest charges, and 
     insurance premiums, as authorized by law, $274,429,000.

         Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide

       For expenses of family housing for the activities and 
     agencies of the Department of Defense (other than the 
     military departments) for operation and maintenance, leasing, 
     and minor construction, as authorized by law, $59,157,000.

         Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund

       For the Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement 
     Fund, $3,258,000, to remain available until expended, for 
     family housing initiatives undertaken pursuant to section 
     2883 of title 10, United States Code, providing alternative 
     means of acquiring and improving military family housing and 
     supporting facilities.

               Department of Defense Base Closure Account

       For deposit into the Department of Defense Base Closure 
     Account, established by section 2906(a) of the Defense Base 
     Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (10 U.S.C. 2687 note), 
     $230,237,000, to remain available until expended.

                       Administrative Provisions

       Sec. 101.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     shall be expended for payments under a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee 
     contract for construction, where cost estimates exceed 
     $25,000, to be performed within the United States, except 
     Alaska, without the specific approval in writing of the 
     Secretary of Defense setting forth the reasons therefor.
       Sec. 102.  Funds made available in this title for 
     construction shall be available for hire of passenger motor 
     vehicles.
       Sec. 103.  Funds made available in this title for 
     construction may be used for advances to the Federal Highway 
     Administration, Department of Transportation, for the 
     construction of access roads as authorized by section 210 of 
     title 23, United States Code, when projects authorized 
     therein are certified as important to the national defense by 
     the Secretary of Defense.
       Sec. 104.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used to begin construction of new bases in the United 
     States for which specific appropriations have not been made.
       Sec. 105.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     shall be used for purchase of land or land easements in 
     excess of 100 percent of the value as determined by the Army 
     Corps of Engineers or the Naval Facilities Engineering 
     Command, except: (1) where there is a determination of value 
     by a Federal court; (2) purchases negotiated by the Attorney 
     General or the designee of the Attorney General; (3) where 
     the estimated value is less than $25,000; or (4) as otherwise 
     determined by the Secretary of Defense to be in the public 
     interest.
       Sec. 106.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     shall be used to: (1) acquire land; (2) provide for site 
     preparation; or (3) install utilities for any family housing, 
     except housing for which funds have been made available in 
     annual Acts making appropriations for military construction.
       Sec. 107.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     for minor construction may be used to transfer or relocate 
     any activity from one base or installation to another, 
     without prior notification to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.
       Sec. 108.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used for the procurement of steel for any construction 
     project or activity for which American steel producers, 
     fabricators, and manufacturers have been denied the 
     opportunity to compete for such steel procurement.
       Sec. 109.  None of the funds available to the Department of 
     Defense for military construction or family housing during 
     the current fiscal year may be used to pay real property 
     taxes in any foreign nation.
       Sec. 110.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used to initiate a new installation overseas without 
     prior notification to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress.
       Sec. 111.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be obligated for architect and engineer contracts 
     estimated by the Government to exceed $500,000 for projects 
     to be accomplished in Japan, in any North Atlantic Treaty 
     Organization member country, or in countries bordering the 
     Arabian Gulf, unless such contracts are awarded to United 
     States firms or United States firms in joint venture with 
     host nation firms.
       Sec. 112.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     for military construction in the United States territories 
     and possessions in the Pacific and on Kwajalein Atoll, or in 
     countries bordering the Arabian Gulf, may be used to award 
     any contract estimated by the Government to exceed $1,000,000 
     to a foreign contractor: Provided, That this section shall 
     not be applicable to contract awards for which the lowest 
     responsive and responsible bid of a United States contractor 
     exceeds the lowest responsive and responsible bid of a 
     foreign contractor by greater than 20 percent: Provided 
     further, That this section shall not apply to contract awards 
     for military construction on Kwajalein Atoll for

[[Page H2825]]

     which the lowest responsive and responsible bid is submitted 
     by a Marshallese contractor.
       Sec. 113.  The Secretary of Defense shall inform the 
     appropriate committees of both Houses of Congress, including 
     the Committees on Appropriations, of plans and scope of any 
     proposed military exercise involving United States personnel 
     30 days prior to its occurring, if amounts expended for 
     construction, either temporary or permanent, are anticipated 
     to exceed $100,000.
       Sec. 114.  Funds appropriated to the Department of Defense 
     for construction in prior years shall be available for 
     construction authorized for each such military department by 
     the authorizations enacted into law during the current 
     session of Congress.
       Sec. 115.  For military construction or family housing 
     projects that are being completed with funds otherwise 
     expired or lapsed for obligation, expired or lapsed funds may 
     be used to pay the cost of associated supervision, 
     inspection, overhead, engineering and design on those 
     projects and on subsequent claims, if any.
       Sec. 116.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any 
     funds made available to a military department or defense 
     agency for the construction of military projects may be 
     obligated for a military construction project or contract, or 
     for any portion of such a project or contract, at any time 
     before the end of the fourth fiscal year after the fiscal 
     year for which funds for such project were made available, if 
     the funds obligated for such project: (1) are obligated from 
     funds available for military construction projects; and (2) 
     do not exceed the amount appropriated for such project, plus 
     any amount by which the cost of such project is increased 
     pursuant to law.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 117.  Subject to 30 days prior notification, or 14 
     days for a notification provided in an electronic medium 
     pursuant to sections 480 and 2883 of title 10, United States 
     Code, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress, such additional amounts as may be determined by the 
     Secretary of Defense may be transferred to: (1) the 
     Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund from 
     amounts appropriated for construction in ``Family Housing'' 
     accounts, to be merged with and to be available for the same 
     purposes and for the same period of time as amounts 
     appropriated directly to the Fund; or (2) the Department of 
     Defense Military Unaccompanied Housing Improvement Fund from 
     amounts appropriated for construction of military 
     unaccompanied housing in ``Military Construction'' accounts, 
     to be merged with and to be available for the same purposes 
     and for the same period of time as amounts appropriated 
     directly to the Fund: Provided, That appropriations made 
     available to the Funds shall be available to cover the costs, 
     as defined in section 502(5) of the Congressional Budget Act 
     of 1974, of direct loans or loan guarantees issued by the 
     Department of Defense pursuant to the provisions of 
     subchapter IV of chapter 169 of title 10, United States Code, 
     pertaining to alternative means of acquiring and improving 
     military family housing, military unaccompanied housing, and 
     supporting facilities.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 118.  In addition to any other transfer authority 
     available to the Department of Defense, amounts may be 
     transferred from the Department of Defense Base Closure 
     Account to the fund established by section 1013(d) of the 
     Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966 
     (42 U.S.C. 3374) to pay for expenses associated with the 
     Homeowners Assistance Program incurred under 42 U.S.C. 
     3374(a)(1)(A). Any amounts transferred shall be merged with 
     and be available for the same purposes and for the same time 
     period as the fund to which transferred.
       Sec. 119.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
     funds made available in this title for operation and 
     maintenance of family housing shall be the exclusive source 
     of funds for repair and maintenance of all family housing 
     units, including general or flag officer quarters: Provided, 
     That not more than $35,000 per unit may be spent annually for 
     the maintenance and repair of any general or flag officer 
     quarters without 30 days prior notification, or 14 days for a 
     notification provided in an electronic medium pursuant to 
     sections 480 and 2883 of title 10, United States Code, to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress, 
     except that an after-the-fact notification shall be submitted 
     if the limitation is exceeded solely due to costs associated 
     with environmental remediation that could not be reasonably 
     anticipated at the time of the budget submission: Provided 
     further, That the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) is 
     to report annually to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress all operation and maintenance 
     expenditures for each individual general or flag officer 
     quarters for the prior fiscal year.
       Sec. 120.  Amounts contained in the Ford Island Improvement 
     Account established by subsection (h) of section 2814 of 
     title 10, United States Code, are appropriated and shall be 
     available until expended for the purposes specified in 
     subsection (i)(1) of such section or until transferred 
     pursuant to subsection (i)(3) of such section.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 121.  During the 5-year period after appropriations 
     available in this Act to the Department of Defense for 
     military construction and family housing operation and 
     maintenance and construction have expired for obligation, 
     upon a determination that such appropriations will not be 
     necessary for the liquidation of obligations or for making 
     authorized adjustments to such appropriations for obligations 
     incurred during the period of availability of such 
     appropriations, unobligated balances of such appropriations 
     may be transferred into the appropriation ``Foreign Currency 
     Fluctuations, Construction, Defense'', to be merged with and 
     to be available for the same time period and for the same 
     purposes as the appropriation to which transferred.
       Sec. 122. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), none of 
     the funds made available in this Act may be used by the 
     Secretary of the Army to relocate a unit in the Army that--
       (1) performs a testing mission or function that is not 
     performed by any other unit in the Army and is specifically 
     stipulated in title 10, United States Code; and
       (2) is located at a military installation at which the 
     total number of civilian employees of the Department of the 
     Army and Army contractor personnel employed exceeds 10 
     percent of the total number of members of the regular and 
     reserve components of the Army assigned to the installation.
       (b) Exception.--Subsection (a) shall not apply if the 
     Secretary of the Army certifies to the congressional defense 
     committees that in proposing the relocation of the unit of 
     the Army, the Secretary complied with Army Regulation 5-10 
     relating to the policy, procedures, and responsibilities for 
     Army stationing actions.
       Sec. 123.  Amounts appropriated or otherwise made available 
     in an account funded under the headings in this title may be 
     transferred among projects and activities within the account 
     in accordance with the reprogramming guidelines for military 
     construction and family housing construction contained in 
     Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation 
     7000.14-R, Volume 3, Chapter 7, of March 2011, as in effect 
     on the date of enactment of this Act.
       Sec. 124.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be obligated or expended for planning and design and 
     construction of projects at Arlington National Cemetery.

                         (rescission of funds)

       Sec. 125.  Of the unobligated balances available for 
     ``Military Construction, Army'', from prior appropriation 
     Acts (other than appropriations designated by law as being 
     for contingency operations directly related to the global war 
     on terrorism or as an emergency requirement), $25,000,000 are 
     hereby rescinded.

                          (rescission of funds)

       Sec. 126.  Of the unobligated balances available for 
     ``Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps'', from prior 
     appropriation Acts (other than appropriations designated by 
     law as being for contingency operations directly related to 
     the global war on terrorism or as an emergency requirement), 
     $51,848,000 are hereby rescinded.

                         (rescission of funds)

       Sec. 127.  Of the unobligated balances available for 
     ``Military Construction, Defense-Wide'', from prior 
     appropriation Acts (other than appropriations designated by 
     law as being for contingency operations directly related to 
     the global war on terrorism or as an emergency requirement), 
     $37,377,000 are hereby rescinded.
       Sec. 128.  For an additional amount for ``Military 
     Construction, Army'', $40,500,000, to remain available until 
     September 30, 2021: Provided, That such funds may only be 
     obligated to carry out construction projects, in priority 
     order, identified in the Department of the Army's Unfunded 
     Priority List for Fiscal Year 2017 submitted by the Secretary 
     of Defense to Congress: Provided further, That such funding 
     is subject to authorization prior to obligation and 
     expenditure of funds: Provided further, That, not later than 
     30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the 
     Army shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided 
     under this section.
       Sec. 129.  For an additional amount for ``Military 
     Construction, Navy and Marine Corps'', $293,600,000, to 
     remain available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That 
     such funds may only be obligated to carry out construction 
     projects, in priority order, identified in the Department of 
     the Navy's Unfunded Priority List for Fiscal Year 2017 
     submitted by the Secretary of Defense to Congress: Provided 
     further, That such funding is subject to authorization prior 
     to obligation and expenditure of funds: Provided further, 
     That, not later than 30 days after enactment of this Act, the 
     Secretary of the Navy shall submit to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress an expenditure plan 
     for funds provided under this section.
       Sec. 130.  For an additional amount for ``Military 
     Construction, Army National Guard'', $67,500,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That such funds 
     may only be obligated to carry out construction projects, in 
     priority order, identified in the Department of the Army's 
     Unfunded Priority List for Fiscal Year 2017 submitted by the 
     Secretary of Defense to Congress: Provided further, That such 
     funding is subject to authorization prior to obligation and 
     expenditure of funds: Provided further, That, not later than 
     30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the 
     Army shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both

[[Page H2826]]

     Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided 
     under this section.
       Sec. 131.  For an additional amount for ``Military 
     Construction, Army Reserve'', $86,500,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That such funds 
     may only be obligated to carry out construction projects, in 
     priority order, identified in the Department of the Army's 
     Unfunded Priority List for Fiscal Year 2017 submitted by the 
     Secretary of Defense to Congress: Provided further, That such 
     funding is subject to authorization prior to obligation and 
     expenditure of funds: Provided further, That, not later than 
     30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the 
     Army shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds provided 
     under this section.
       Sec. 132.  For an additional amount for ``Military 
     Construction, Air Force'', $26,000,000, to remain available 
     until September 30, 2021: Provided, That such funds may only 
     be obligated to carry out construction projects, in priority 
     order, identified in the Department of the Air Force's 
     Unfunded Priority List for Fiscal Year 2017 submitted by the 
     Secretary of Defense to Congress: Provided further, That such 
     funding is subject to authorization prior to obligation and 
     expenditure of funds: Provided further, That not later than 
     30 days after enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Air 
     Force shall submit to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress an expenditure plan for funds 
     provided under this section.

                         (rescission of funds)

       Sec. 133.  Of the unobligated balances made available in 
     prior appropriation Acts for the fund established in section 
     1013(d) of the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan 
     Development Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 3374) (other than 
     appropriations designated by law as being for contingency 
     operations directly related to the global war on terrorism or 
     as an emergency requirement), $25,000,000 are hereby 
     rescinded.
       Sec. 134.  For the purposes of this Act, the term 
     ``congressional defense committees'' means the Committees on 
     Armed Services of the House of Representatives and the 
     Senate, the Subcommittee on Military Construction and 
     Veterans Affairs of the Committee on Appropriations of the 
     Senate, and the Subcommittee on Military Construction and 
     Veterans Affairs of the Committee on Appropriations of the 
     House of Representatives.

                         (rescission of funds)

       Sec. 135.  Of the unobligated balances available for ``NATO 
     Security Investment Program'', from prior appropriations Acts 
     (other than appropriations designated by law as being for 
     contingency operations directly related to the global war on 
     terrorism or as an emergency requirement), $30,000,000 are 
     hereby rescinded.
       Sec. 136.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to carry out the closure or realignment of the United 
     States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

                                TITLE II

                     DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

                    Veterans Benefits Administration

                       compensation and pensions

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For the payment of compensation benefits to or on behalf of 
     veterans and a pilot program for disability examinations as 
     authorized by section 107 and chapters 11, 13, 18, 51, 53, 
     55, and 61 of title 38, United States Code; pension benefits 
     to or on behalf of veterans as authorized by chapters 15, 51, 
     53, 55, and 61 of title 38, United States Code; and burial 
     benefits, the Reinstated Entitlement Program for Survivors, 
     emergency and other officers' retirement pay, adjusted-
     service credits and certificates, payment of premiums due on 
     commercial life insurance policies guaranteed under the 
     provisions of title IV of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act 
     (50 U.S.C. App. 541 et seq.) and for other benefits as 
     authorized by sections 107, 1312, 1977, and 2106, and 
     chapters 23, 51, 53, 55, and 61 of title 38, United States 
     Code, $90,119,449,000, to remain available until expended and 
     to become available on October 1, 2017: Provided, That not to 
     exceed $17,224,000 of the amount made available for fiscal 
     year 2018 under this heading shall be reimbursed to ``General 
     Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration'', and 
     ``Information Technology Systems'' for necessary expenses in 
     implementing the provisions of chapters 51, 53, and 55 of 
     title 38, United States Code, the funding source for which is 
     specifically provided as the ``Compensation and Pensions'' 
     appropriation: Provided further, That such sums as may be 
     earned on an actual qualifying patient basis, shall be 
     reimbursed to ``Medical Care Collections Fund'' to augment 
     the funding of individual medical facilities for nursing home 
     care provided to pensioners as authorized.

                         readjustment benefits

       For the payment of readjustment and rehabilitation benefits 
     to or on behalf of veterans as authorized by chapters 21, 30, 
     31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 41, 51, 53, 55, and 61 of title 38, 
     United States Code, $13,708,648,000, to remain available 
     until expended and to become available on October 1, 2017: 
     Provided, That expenses for rehabilitation program services 
     and assistance which the Secretary is authorized to provide 
     under subsection (a) of section 3104 of title 38, United 
     States Code, other than under paragraphs (1), (2), (5), and 
     (11) of that subsection, shall be charged to this account.

                   veterans insurance and indemnities

       For military and naval insurance, national service life 
     insurance, servicemen's indemnities, service-disabled 
     veterans insurance, and veterans mortgage life insurance as 
     authorized by chapters 19 and 21, title 38, United States 
     Code, $124,504,000, to remain available until expended, of 
     which $107,899,000 shall become available on October 1, 2017.

                 veterans housing benefit program fund

       For the cost of direct and guaranteed loans, such sums as 
     may be necessary to carry out the program, as authorized by 
     subchapters I through III of chapter 37 of title 38, United 
     States Code: Provided, That such costs, including the cost of 
     modifying such loans, shall be as defined in section 502 of 
     the Congressional Budget Act of 1974: Provided further, That, 
     during fiscal year 2017, within the resources available, not 
     to exceed $500,000 in gross obligations for direct loans are 
     authorized for specially adapted housing loans.
       In addition, for administrative expenses to carry out the 
     direct and guaranteed loan programs, $167,612,000.

            vocational rehabilitation loans program account

       For the cost of direct loans, $36,000, as authorized by 
     chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code: Provided, That 
     such costs, including the cost of modifying such loans, shall 
     be as defined in section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act 
     of 1974: Provided further, That funds made available under 
     this heading are available to subsidize gross obligations for 
     the principal amount of direct loans not to exceed 
     $2,517,000.
       In addition, for administrative expenses necessary to carry 
     out the direct loan program, $389,000, which may be paid to 
     the appropriation for ``General Operating Expenses, Veterans 
     Benefits Administration''.

          native american veteran housing loan program account

       For administrative expenses to carry out the direct loan 
     program authorized by subchapter V of chapter 37 of title 38, 
     United States Code, $1,163,000.

                     Veterans Health Administration

                            medical services

       For necessary expenses for furnishing, as authorized by 
     law, inpatient and outpatient care and treatment to 
     beneficiaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs and 
     veterans described in section 1705(a) of title 38, United 
     States Code, including care and treatment in facilities not 
     under the jurisdiction of the Department, and including 
     medical supplies and equipment, bioengineering services, food 
     services, and salaries and expenses of healthcare employees 
     hired under title 38, United States Code, aid to State homes 
     as authorized by section 1741 of title 38, United States 
     Code, assistance and support services for caregivers as 
     authorized by section 1720G of title 38, United States Code, 
     loan repayments authorized by section 604 of the Caregivers 
     and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (Public Law 
     111-163; 124 Stat. 1174; 38 U.S.C. 7681 note), and hospital 
     care and medical services authorized by section 1787 of title 
     38, United States Code; $850,000,000, which shall be in 
     addition to funds previously appropriated under this heading 
     that became available on October 1, 2016; and, in addition, 
     $44,886,554,000, plus reimbursements, shall become available 
     on October 1, 2017, and shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2018: Provided, That, of the amount made 
     available on October 1, 2017, under this heading, 
     $1,400,000,000 shall remain available until September 30, 
     2019: Provided further, That, notwithstanding any other 
     provision of law, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
     establish a priority for the provision of medical treatment 
     for veterans who have service-connected disabilities, lower 
     income, or have special needs: Provided further, That, 
     notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of 
     Veterans Affairs shall give priority funding for the 
     provision of basic medical benefits to veterans in enrollment 
     priority groups 1 through 6: Provided further, That, 
     notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of 
     Veterans Affairs may authorize the dispensing of prescription 
     drugs from Veterans Health Administration facilities to 
     enrolled veterans with privately written prescriptions based 
     on requirements established by the Secretary: Provided 
     further, That the implementation of the program described in 
     the previous proviso shall incur no additional cost to the 
     Department of Veterans Affairs.

                              {time}  2300


                     Amendment Offered by Mr. Gosar

  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 29, line 6, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(increased by $4,000,000)''.
       Page 33, line 12, after the first dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $5,500,000)''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Arizona and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Arizona.
  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment which seeks to 
redirect scarce resources to important

[[Page H2827]]

mental health programs for our Nation's veterans.
  At a hearing just last week entitled ``Combating the Crisis: 
Evaluating Efforts to Prevent Veteran Suicide,'' Chairman Jeff Miller 
stated that the latest data available from the VA reports that 22 
veterans per day are committing suicide.
  Last fiscal year, the VA General Administration account got a $15.68 
million increase for more bureaucracy within the VA. This year, the 
Obama administration has requested another $81 million increase for 
that account.
  The committee wisely chose not to provide funding for the majority of 
the request in that bill, stating:
  ``It has doubts about the wisdom of establishing a large new office 
with regional staffing at this late date in the administration.''
  My amendment simply transfers a portion of the fiscal year 2016 
increase for government bureaucrats to important mental health services 
for our Nation's heroes returning from combat.
  Traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder have been 
consistently contributing to behavioral issues amongst our veterans; 
and all too often, these ongoing mental health issues result in 
suicide. With an average of 22 veteran suicides per day, more resources 
are desperately needed.
  While redirecting funds to where they are needed most, the 
Congressional Budget Office also states that this amendment would save 
money and reduce outlays. My amendment also helps bring the level of 
funding in the bill for mental health closer to the administration's 
requests for the fiscal year.
  The VA doesn't need more money to hire more paper pushers. Instead, 
let's appropriate that money to where and whom the VA was created for: 
to serve and help improve the mental health of our Nation's heroes.
  I applaud the committee for including my language that ensures the 
Veterans Crisis Line will provide an immediate response from a trained 
professional and for the resources already directed in this bill 
towards mental health.
  I ask my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment and help 
ensure our veterans that are in need get the care they so earned.
  Mr. Chair, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition, but I don't 
oppose the amendment.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I am certainly sympathetic to the intent of 
the gentleman's amendment to increase funding for suicide prevention 
outreach programs. Obviously, we all know this is a very serious 
problem. These programs already received an 11 percent increase in our 
bill, for a total of $164 million. So I do not oppose the amendment, 
and I urge its adoption.
  Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GOSAR. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Arizona (Mr. Gosar).
  The amendment was agreed to.


     Amendment Offered by Ms. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico

  Ms. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM of New Mexico. Mr. Chair, I have an 
amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 29, line 6, after the dollar amount, insert ``(reduced 
     by $10,000,000) (increased by $10,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentlewoman from New 
Mexico and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from New Mexico.
  Ms. MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM of New Mexico. Mr. Chair, we have a 
provider shortage in this country, and it is only projected to get 
worse. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the 
United States could face a shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2025.
  One of the most common complaints I hear from veterans in Albuquerque 
is that even with the flexibility they have to see outside providers 
through the Veterans Choice Act, there just aren't enough providers--
especially behavioral health providers--to treat everyone who needs 
care.
  If trends continue, we will be without the workforce needed to treat 
an aging population that will increasingly live with chronic health 
care issues. The provider shortages hit rural, poor, and underserved 
communities and states like New Mexico particularly hard.
  According to the New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee, every 
single healthcare profession in New Mexico has a shortage of providers. 
In fact, Los Alamos, New Mexico, is the only county in the entire State 
without a shortage of primary health care providers. And primary care 
physicians are four more times available in urban areas than in rural 
New Mexico.
  The result: longer waits, longer travel, patients not receiving the 
care they need, and worse health outcomes.
  We have to educate and recruit more providers, but that will not be 
enough to keep up with growing demand. We have to do a better job at 
leveraging the resources we have to put VA providers in the best 
situation we can to provide quality and timely care to their patients.
  The Department of Veterans Affairs, the largest healthcare system in 
the United States, should be leading in using telehealth technology to 
provide care and promote patient wellness.
  The VHA's Home Telehealth Program is growing and provided 2.1 million 
consultations to more than 677,000 veterans in 2015. But we can do much 
more.
  In a report last year, the VA Inspector General's office found that 
the VA missed opportunities to serve additional patients with the Home 
Telehealth Program, which could have ``potentially delayed the need for 
long-term institutional care for approximately 59,000 additional 
veterans.''
  The VA Inspector General also found that ``telehealth patients showed 
the best outcomes in terms of patient admissions and bed days of 
care.''
  It also saves money. Using telehealth instead of placing a veterans 
in a contract nursing home facility saves approximately $92,000 a year, 
and the veteran gets to stay independently at home.
  The VA should follow models such as the University of New Mexico's 
Project ECHO and think creatively about sharing expertise among 
specialists, primary care physicians, and medical centers to ensure 
patients in underserved communities get the care they need.

                              {time}  2310

  Mr. Chairman, the VA should increase its focus on programs that are 
proven to improve clinical outcomes and expand access to care while 
reducing treatment costs.
  I urge Members to support my amendment to prioritize funding for the 
VA Home Telehealth Program.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim time in opposition, but I do not 
oppose the amendment.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I share the gentlewoman's concern about the 
importance of telehealth as a way to provide healthcare services 
remotely to patients. It is especially useful in the treatment of 
mental health and behavioral health issues.
  The VA is a leader in telehealth activities, providing 2.1 million 
consultations to more than 677,000 veterans in 2015, many of whom were 
in rural areas. VA funding for telehealth will total almost $1.2 
billion in fiscal year 2017.
  I do not oppose the amendment. I urge its adoption.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. DENT. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Chairman, I come from a very rural district as well, and I 
understand the importance of access to quality care.
  I agree that we need to train and recruit more health professionals. 
In the meantime, I agree that telemedicine is a great tool to help deal 
with the shortage of health professionals.

[[Page H2828]]

  So I support this amendment, and I urge all of the Members to do so. 
It will do a great deal toward helping to bring access to care to our 
veterans in rural communities.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentlewoman from New Mexico (Ms. Michelle Lujan Grisham).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                         medical community care

       For necessary expenses for furnishing health care to 
     individuals pursuant to chapter 17 of title 38, United States 
     Code, at non-Department facilities, $7,246,181,000, plus 
     reimbursements, to be derived from amounts appropriated in 
     title II of division J of Public Law 114-113 under the 
     headings ``Medical Services'', ``Medical Support and 
     Compliance'', or ``Medical Facilities'' which became 
     available on October 1, 2016; and, in addition, 
     $9,409,118,000 shall become available on October 1, 2017, and 
     shall remain available until September 30, 2018: Provided, 
     That, of the amount made available on October 1, 2017, under 
     this heading, $1,500,000,000 shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2019.

                     medical support and compliance

       For necessary expenses in the administration of the 
     medical, hospital, nursing home, domiciliary, construction, 
     supply, and research activities, as authorized by law; 
     administrative expenses in support of capital policy 
     activities; and administrative and legal expenses of the 
     Department for collecting and recovering amounts owed the 
     Department as authorized under chapter 17 of title 38, United 
     States Code, and the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (42 
     U.S.C. 2651 et seq.), $6,654,480,000, plus reimbursements, 
     shall become available on October 1, 2017, and shall remain 
     available until September 30, 2018: Provided, That, of the 
     amount made available on October 1, 2017, under this heading, 
     $100,000,000 shall remain available until September 30, 2019.

                           medical facilities

       For necessary expenses for the maintenance and operation of 
     hospitals, nursing homes, domiciliary facilities, and other 
     necessary facilities of the Veterans Health Administration; 
     for administrative expenses in support of planning, design, 
     project management, real property acquisition and 
     disposition, construction, and renovation of any facility 
     under the jurisdiction or for the use of the Department; for 
     oversight, engineering, and architectural activities not 
     charged to project costs; for repairing, altering, improving, 
     or providing facilities in the several hospitals and homes 
     under the jurisdiction of the Department, not otherwise 
     provided for, either by contract or by the hire of temporary 
     employees and purchase of materials; for leases of 
     facilities; and for laundry services, $5,434,880,000, plus 
     reimbursements, shall become available on October 1, 2017, 
     and shall remain available until September 30, 2018: 
     Provided, That, of the amount made available on October 1, 
     2017, under this heading, $250,000,000 shall remain available 
     until September 30, 2019.

                    medical and prosthetic research

       For necessary expenses in carrying out programs of medical 
     and prosthetic research and development as authorized by 
     chapter 73 of title 38, United States Code, $663,366,000, 
     plus reimbursements, shall remain available until September 
     30, 2018.

                    National Cemetery Administration

       For necessary expenses of the National Cemetery 
     Administration for operations and maintenance, not otherwise 
     provided for, including uniforms or allowances therefor; 
     cemeterial expenses as authorized by law; purchase of one 
     passenger motor vehicle for use in cemeterial operations; 
     hire of passenger motor vehicles; and repair, alteration or 
     improvement of facilities under the jurisdiction of the 
     National Cemetery Administration, $271,220,000, of which not 
     to exceed $26,600,000 shall remain available until September 
     30, 2018.

                      Departmental Administration

                         general administration

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For necessary operating expenses of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs, not otherwise provided for, including 
     administrative expenses in support of Department-wide capital 
     planning, management and policy activities, uniforms, or 
     allowances therefor; not to exceed $25,000 for official 
     reception and representation expenses; hire of passenger 
     motor vehicles; and reimbursement of the General Services 
     Administration for security guard services, $336,659,000, of 
     which not to exceed $10,000,000 shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2018: Provided, That funds provided under this 
     heading may be transferred to ``General Operating Expenses, 
     Veterans Benefits Administration''.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Keating

  Mr. KEATING. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 33, line 12, after the first dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $1,500,000) (increased by $1,500,000)''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Massachusetts and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KEATING. Mr. Chairman, I thank Chairman Dent and Ranking Member 
Bishop for their work on this appropriations bill, and for their 
cooperation with this amendment.
  I rise today to offer an amendment that will support a requirement of 
VA prescribers to complement a continuing medication course in pain 
management.
  Nationally, about 30 percent of Americans have some form of chronic 
pain. However, the percentage of veterans who report chronic pain is 
significantly higher. Over 50 percent of elderly veterans report 
chronic pain as do almost 60 percent of veterans returning from the 
conflict in the Middle East.
  In fact, chronic pain is the most common medical problem experienced 
by returning combat veterans in the last decade.
  Of course, pain is not a stand-alone problem. Pain is something we 
see as a consequence of physical injury, and sometimes that physical 
injury leads to co-occurring mental health ailments.
  We are increasingly more aware of the mental health consequences 
stemming from time in combat. Veterans with brain trauma are more 
likely to report physical pain and, in turn, are more likely to receive 
prescriptions for opioids.
  Recent VA data shows us that roughly 523,000 veterans are receiving 
prescriptions for opioids, and the number of veterans with opioid use 
disorders has grown 55 percent over the past 5 years. Veterans are 
twice as likely to overdose on prescription opioids as the general 
population.
  We are very fortunate to live in a time where quality care can be 
offered to our military personnel, and it is unparalleled. Now we need 
to do our part to help these heroes manage their chronic pain in the 
safest manner possible.
  Last month I introduced the Safe Prescribing for Veterans Act, which 
will help those who provide healthcare services to veterans learn the 
latest pain management techniques, understand safe prescribing 
practices, and spot the signs of potential substance use disorders. 
This act works by directing healthcare providers from the VA to take 
continuing education courses specific to pain management, opioids, and 
substance abuse.
  VA healthcare providers already need continuing education to maintain 
their State-issued professional licenses, and my bill makes sure they 
spend some of the already-required time learning about safe opioid 
prescribing practices.
  The bill does not add to the total number of credits that prescribers 
already have to take, it just insists that they spend their time on 
this important issue.
  Only 14 States require their physicians to take pain management 
education credits. My constituents are fortunate in Massachusetts 
because we are 1 of the 14 States that ask its doctors to complete pain 
management training.
  However, even our neighboring States do not have the mandatory pain 
management requirements. Veterans in my district, especially those in 
the South Coast, often find it easy to receive their health care at VA 
hospitals in Rhode Island. As of now, there is no guarantee that the 
doctors they see in Providence have taken the same pain management 
education courses.
  I rise before you today in an effort to give our veterans that 
guarantee.
  I urge my colleagues to join me in support of this amendment to 
ensure our veterans receive the care they deserve.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition, but I am not 
opposed to the amendment.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman is addressing a problem that 
many Members have contacted us about, the long delays that community 
practitioners are experiencing in being paid by VA for their care for 
veterans.
  Our report requires VA to provide comprehensive information detailing

[[Page H2829]]

the reimbursements owed to providers in each State and the amounts of 
invoices that are more than 6 months overdue.
  GAO just released a report with alarming data about VA's significant 
problems in managing prompt payment to outside providers. I am sure 
that we will revisit this issue in conference, and we will welcome any 
suggestions the gentleman has for us.
  I have no objection to this amendment and urge its adoption.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. KEATING. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Massachusetts (Mr. Keating).
  The amendment was agreed to.


              Amendment Offered by Mr. Clawson of Florida

  Mr. CLAWSON of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the 
desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 33, line 12, after the first dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $5,000,000)''.
       Page 35, line 1, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(increased by $5,000,000)''.
       Page 35, line 8, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(increased by $5,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Florida and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida.
  Mr. CLAWSON of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I thank Chairman Dent; full 
respect for what he does and, more importantly, how he does it. Agree 
or disagree, the gentleman does it the right way, and I appreciate his 
leadership style.
  Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to offer my amendment to 
the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies 
Appropriations bill.
  May 30 is Memorial Day, a day we set aside to recognize the 
tremendous debt of gratitude for those who have selflessly sacrificed 
for our liberties.
  From constituent discussions in my district, I am acutely aware that 
customer service for our vets often falls short of the mark. Far too 
many of our vets, I am told, simply do not receive timely responses to 
their healthcare questions. We can do better.
  My amendment, which I am proposing, is directed at improving customer 
service problems by improving the information technology at VA 
facilities.
  My amendment would enhance veterans' customer service experiences by 
funding improved, service-based, commoditized technology and 
telecommunications.

                              {time}  2320

  For this, my amendment would add $5 million to the information 
technology systems account, specifically the funding directed at the 
development, modernization, and enhancement of the current IT 
infrastructure.
  In the proposed budget, this account is currently funded at $4.23 
billion, $50 million short of the President's budget request of $4.28 
billion in this area. My amendment would offset this $5 million by 
reducing the general administration account, currently funded at $336 
million. The redirected $5 million would be used in acquiring new 
technologies to provide more acceptable customer satisfaction and 
delivery measures.
  I am the proud son of a veteran who served overseas. In my role in 
Congress, it is a great honor and privilege to serve over 100,000 
veterans who call my district home. We all know vets--friends, 
neighbors, family, and, in my case, a nephew just returning from 
Afghanistan and a father who served a long time ago. Let's do right by 
these brave folks by improving their customer service and response.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition, but I do not 
oppose the amendment.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I certainly know the gentleman from Florida 
is very committed to improving veterans' experiences when they deal 
with the VA, and modernizing infrastructure is certainly an important 
part of that. I have no objection to the amendment, and I certainly 
appreciate the gentleman's deep commitment given his own father's 
experience in our Armed Forces. We thank him for that service.
  Again, I have no objection to this amendment, and I urge its 
adoption.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Florida (Mr. Clawson).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Keating

  Mr. KEATING. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 33, line 12, after the first dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $1,000,000) (increased by $1,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Massachusetts and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.
  Mr. KEATING. Mr. Chairman, again I would like to thank Chairman Dent 
and Ranking Member Bishop for their work on this bill and their 
cooperation on this amendment.
  I rise today to offer a straightforward amendment that will improve 
our understanding of the causes of delays within the Veterans Choice 
Program. The Veterans Choice Program was implemented to address delays 
in patient care at the Veterans Administration. However, as of April of 
this year, data from the VA showed that the number of veterans waiting 
more than 30 days for an appointment was actually higher than when the 
Veterans Choice Program was initiated.
  The well-intentioned and necessary program was initiated and 
acknowledged. The fact is the Veterans Choice Program was cobbled 
together very quickly given the time constraints. This led to excessive 
privatization and contracting through third parties, which has 
contributed to frequent delays, and we are seeing these delays even 
today.
  In my district alone, I have spoken with numerous veterans who live a 
great distance from VA medical facilities, such as the islands of 
Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. My constituents rely heavily on 
accessibility to non-VA doctors the Veterans Choice is intended to 
provide.
  Further, an oft cited problem with Veterans Choice is the lack of 
clear communications regarding the eligibility requirements of the 
program to both veterans and non-VA providers. Understanding the 
obstacles around efficient scheduling of appointments of veterans and 
swift reimbursement for providers would serve as a crucial first step 
in resolving some of the issues that the Choice Program faces. Without 
this understanding, the program itself really isn't beneficial.
  That is why I am offering this amendment, to advocate for redirected 
funding toward finding a solution to the delays and the communication 
errors plaguing implementation of Veterans Choice.
  I have no doubt whatsoever that every Member of Congress here agrees 
that our veterans deserve the very best possible care in a timely 
manner. Ultimately, this amendment is meant to assist the VA in 
identifying why these delays are occurring and to help recommend 
solutions.
  I want to thank the chairman again.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I agree with the gentleman from 
Massachusetts that we need to take a serious look at the Choice 
Program. VA's most recent data show, compared to the last year, there 
are now 70,000 more appointments that kept a veteran waiting at least a 
month to get care. Furthermore, a March General Accounting Office 
report showed that the Choice Program had little impact on getting 
veterans to see a primary care physician in 30 days.
  Thousands of veterans referred to the program are returning to the VA 
for care, sometimes because the program could not find a doctor for 
them and because the private doctor they were told to see was too far 
away according

[[Page H2830]]

to VA data. In fact, VA's own inspector general found that in Colorado, 
veterans were waiting longer than 30 days for care because staff at the 
local VA hospital was not adding them to the list of patients eligible 
for the Choice Program, let alone slow reimbursements.
  Two years ago, Congress was hearing about the VA concealing wait 
times at VA hospitals and clinics and about the veterans who were 
suffering as a result. We were forced to act quickly in this crisis. I 
believe that Congress will have to revamp the Choice Program to make 
sure that it is doing what Congress intended for it to do. We are going 
to need an honest assessment from the VA.
  Mr. Chairman, I urge all Members to support this amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the 
amendment, but I do not oppose the amendment.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. I will just say very briefly, Mr. Chairman, I know the 
gentleman is very interested, as we all are, in finding ways to ensure 
that the VA healthcare providers receive up-to-date and comprehensive 
training in the proper use of pain management medications. So many of 
our veterans struggle with chronic pain, and we have seen the tragic 
consequences of overprescription of opioids as a method of treatment.
  I appreciate the gentleman's interest and his advocacy. I have no 
objections to gentleman's amendment, and I urge adoption.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. KEATING. Again, Mr. Chairman, I thank the chairman and ranking 
member.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Massachusetts (Mr. Keating).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                       board of veterans appeals

       For necessary operating expenses of the Board of Veterans 
     Appeals, $156,096,000, of which not to exceed $15,610,000 
     shall remain available until September 30, 2018.

      general operating expenses, veterans benefits administration

       For necessary operating expenses of the Veterans Benefits 
     Administration, not otherwise provided for, including hire of 
     passenger motor vehicles, reimbursement of the General 
     Services Administration for security guard services, and 
     reimbursement of the Department of Defense for the cost of 
     overseas employee mail, $2,826,160,000: Provided, That 
     expenses for services and assistance authorized under 
     paragraphs (1), (2), (5), and (11) of section 3104(a) of 
     title 38, United States Code, that the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs determines are necessary to enable entitled veterans: 
     (1) to the maximum extent feasible, to become employable and 
     to obtain and maintain suitable employment; or (2) to achieve 
     maximum independence in daily living, shall be charged to 
     this account: Provided further, That, of the funds made 
     available under this heading, not to exceed $141,000,000 
     shall remain available until September 30, 2018.


                     Amendment Offered by Mr. Ruiz

  Mr. RUIZ. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 34, line 5, after the dollar amount, insert ``(reduced 
     by $5,000,000) (increased by $5,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
California and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.
  Mr. RUIZ. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer an amendment to H.R. 
4974, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act for 2017.
  My amendment will help reduce the VA's claims backlog and help 
improve the lives of our veterans. California is home to 2 million 
veterans, and I am proud to represent more than 54,000 veterans in my 
district alone.
  There are 40,000 veterans expected to return to California every year 
for the next several years, including the fastest growing group of 
returning veterans--women.
  We must ensure that our veterans have timely access to the critical 
benefits they have earned and deserve. Unconscionably, thousands of 
veterans who have sacrificed for our country are struggling to access 
benefits they have already earned.
  Due to the lingering claims backlog at the Veterans Affairs 
Administration, veterans across our Nation are waiting for pensions, 
prescription drugs, and even lifesaving medical care.
  Veterans are still waiting for the VA to process 351,676 benefit 
claims, and 74,589 of those veterans have been waiting longer than 125 
days for a decision.

                              {time}  2330

  We owe it to our courageous men and women to clear this harmful 
backlog as soon as possible. Reduced to a claim number in a seemingly 
endless line, our veterans experience pain, frustration, hopelessness, 
and despair. Although the backlog has shrunk since Congress last passed 
a similar appropriations bill, we must not lose sight of the importance 
of getting veterans their hard-earned benefits as soon as possible.
  That is why I am offering this amendment to advocate for an 
additional $5 million to fund the digital scanning of health and 
benefits files to reduce the backlog by redirecting funding within the 
General Operating Expenses account of the Veterans Benefits 
Administration. This amendment simply directs funds towards the digital 
scanning of health and benefits files that will reduce the claims 
backlog without any new spending.
  As an emergency medicine physician, I understand the importance of 
efficiency in health care, and I know how dangerous continued 
bureaucratic rejection can be for a person with PTSD or depression. By 
committing resources to digitizing health and benefits files, we will 
further increase VA's capacity to tackle the claims backlog, ultimately 
ensuring veterans receive the benefits they have earned in a timely 
manner. We must serve our veterans by making certain that Congress 
focuses on eliminating the claims backlog for good.
  I encourage my colleagues to stand up for veterans and support my 
pragmatic amendment to reduce the veterans' claims processing time.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition, although I do 
not oppose the amendment.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, on the VA claims backlog, we have fully 
funded the President's request.
  I have no objection to the amendment, and I am prepared to support 
it.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Ruiz).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                     information technology systems

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For necessary expenses for information technology systems 
     and telecommunications support, including developmental 
     information systems and operational information systems; for 
     pay and associated costs; and for the capital asset 
     acquisition of information technology systems, including 
     management and related contractual costs of said 
     acquisitions, including contractual costs associated with 
     operations authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United 
     States Code, $4,220,869,000, plus reimbursements: Provided, 
     That $1,247,548,000 shall be for pay and associated costs, of 
     which not to exceed $36,300,000 shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2018: Provided further, That $2,502,052,000 
     shall be for operations and maintenance, of which not to 
     exceed $177,900,000 shall remain available until September 
     30, 2018: Provided further, That $471,269,000 shall be for 
     information technology systems development, modernization, 
     and enhancement, and shall remain available until September 
     30, 2018: Provided further, That amounts made available for 
     information technology systems development, modernization, 
     and enhancement may not be obligated or expended until the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs or the Chief Information 
     Officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs submits to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a 
     certification of the amounts, in parts or in full, to be 
     obligated and expended for each development project: Provided 
     further, That amounts made available for salaries and 
     expenses, operations and maintenance, and information 
     technology systems development, modernization, and 
     enhancement may be transferred among the three subaccounts

[[Page H2831]]

     after the Secretary of Veterans Affairs requests from the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress the 
     authority to make the transfer and an approval is issued: 
     Provided further, That amounts made available for the 
     ``Information Technology Systems'' account for development, 
     modernization, and enhancement may be transferred among 
     projects or to newly defined projects: Provided further, That 
     no project may be increased or decreased by more than 
     $1,000,000 of cost prior to submitting a request to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress to 
     make the transfer and an approval is issued, or absent a 
     response, a period of 30 days has elapsed: Provided further, 
     That funds under this heading may be used by the Interagency 
     Program Office through the Department of Veterans Affairs to 
     define data standards, code sets, and value sets used to 
     enable interoperability: Provided further, That of the 
     amounts made available under this heading for operations and 
     maintenance and information technology systems development, 
     modernization, and enhancement, not more than a total amount 
     of $168,113,000 shall be available for VistA Evolution or any 
     successor: Provided further, That none of the funds made 
     available by the preceding proviso may be obligated or 
     expended for such program or any successor until the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs: (1) certifies to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress that 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs has deployed modernized 
     electronic health record software supporting clinicians of 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of 
     Defense no later than December 31, 2016, while ensuring 
     continued support and compatibility with the interoperability 
     platform and full standards-based interoperability, as 
     stipulated by the National Defense Authorization Act of 
     Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66); (2) submits to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress the 
     VistA Evolution Business Case and supporting documents 
     regarding continuation of VistA Evolution or alternatives to 
     VistA Evolution, including an analysis of necessary or 
     desired capabilities, technical and security requirements, 
     the plan for modernizing the platform framework, and all 
     associated costs; and (3) submits to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress, and such 
     Committees approve, the following: a report that describes a 
     strategic plan for VistA Evolution, or any successor, and the 
     associated implementation plan including metrics and 
     timelines; a master schedule and lifecycle cost estimate for 
     VistA Evolution or any successor; and an implementation plan 
     for the transition from the Project Management Accountability 
     System (PMAS) to the new project delivery framework (the 
     Veteran-focused Integration Process (VIP)) that includes the 
     methodology by which projects will be tracked, progress 
     measured, and deliverables evaluated: Provided further, That 
     the funds made available under this heading for information 
     technology systems development, modernization, and 
     enhancement, shall be for the projects, and in the amounts, 
     specified under this heading in the report accompanying this 
     Act.

                      office of inspector general

       For necessary expenses of the Office of Inspector General, 
     to include information technology, in carrying out the 
     provisions of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. 
     App.), $160,106,000, of which not to exceed $14,800,000 shall 
     remain available until September 30, 2018.

                      construction, major projects

       For constructing, altering, extending, and improving any of 
     the facilities, including parking projects, under the 
     jurisdiction or for the use of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs, or for any of the purposes set forth in sections 
     316, 2404, 2406 and chapter 81 of title 38, United States 
     Code, not otherwise provided for, including planning, 
     architectural and engineering services, construction 
     management services, maintenance or guarantee period services 
     costs associated with equipment guarantees provided under the 
     project, services of claims analysts, offsite utility and 
     storm drainage system construction costs, and site 
     acquisition, where the estimated cost of a project is more 
     than the amount set forth in section 8104(a)(3)(A) of title 
     38, United States Code, or where funds for a project were 
     made available in a previous major project appropriation, 
     $528,110,000, of which $494,310,000 shall remain available 
     until September 30, 2021, and of which $33,800,000 shall 
     remain available until expended: Provided, That except for 
     advance planning activities, including needs assessments 
     which may or may not lead to capital investments, and other 
     capital asset management related activities, including 
     portfolio development and management activities, and 
     investment strategy studies funded through the advance 
     planning fund and the planning and design activities funded 
     through the design fund, including needs assessments which 
     may or may not lead to capital investments, and salaries and 
     associated costs of the resident engineers who oversee those 
     capital investments funded through this account and 
     contracting officers who manage specific major construction 
     projects, and funds provided for the purchase of land, 
     security, and maintenance for the National Cemetery 
     Administration through the land acquisition line item, none 
     of the funds made available under this heading shall be used 
     for any project which has not been approved by the Congress 
     in the budgetary process: Provided further, That funds made 
     available under this heading for fiscal year 2017, for each 
     approved project shall be obligated: (1) by the awarding of a 
     construction documents contract by September 30, 2017; and 
     (2) by the awarding of a construction contract by September 
     30, 2018: Provided further, That the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs shall promptly submit to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a written report on 
     any approved major construction project for which obligations 
     are not incurred within the time limitations established 
     above: Provided further, That, of the amount made available 
     under this heading, $222,620,000 for Veterans Health 
     Administration major construction projects shall not be 
     available until the Department of Veterans Affairs--
       (1) enters into an agreement with an appropriate non-
     Department of Veterans Affairs Federal entity to serve as the 
     design and/or construction agent for any Veterans Health 
     Administration major construction project with a Total 
     Estimated Cost of $100,000,000 or above by providing full 
     project management services, including management of the 
     project design, acquisition, construction, and contract 
     changes, consistent with section 502 of Public Law 114-58; 
     and
       (2) certifies in writing that such an agreement is executed 
     and intended to minimize or prevent subsequent major 
     construction project cost overruns and provides a copy of the 
     agreement entered into and any required supplementary 
     information to the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress.

                      construction, minor projects

       For constructing, altering, extending, and improving any of 
     the facilities, including parking projects, under the 
     jurisdiction or for the use of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs, including planning and assessments of needs which 
     may lead to capital investments, architectural and 
     engineering services, maintenance or guarantee period 
     services costs associated with equipment guarantees provided 
     under the project, services of claims analysts, offsite 
     utility and storm drainage system construction costs, and 
     site acquisition, or for any of the purposes set forth in 
     sections 316, 2404, 2406 and chapter 81 of title 38, United 
     States Code, not otherwise provided for, where the estimated 
     cost of a project is equal to or less than the amount set 
     forth in section 8104(a)(3)(A) of title 38, United States 
     Code, $372,069,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2021, along with unobligated balances of previous 
     ``Construction, Minor Projects'' appropriations which are 
     hereby made available for any project where the estimated 
     cost is equal to or less than the amount set forth in such 
     section: Provided, That funds made available under this 
     heading shall be for: (1) repairs to any of the nonmedical 
     facilities under the jurisdiction or for the use of the 
     Department which are necessary because of loss or damage 
     caused by any natural disaster or catastrophe; and (2) 
     temporary measures necessary to prevent or to minimize 
     further loss by such causes.

       grants for construction of state extended care facilities

       For grants to assist States to acquire or construct State 
     nursing home and domiciliary facilities and to remodel, 
     modify, or alter existing hospital, nursing home, and 
     domiciliary facilities in State homes, for furnishing care to 
     veterans as authorized by sections 8131 through 8137 of title 
     38, United States Code, $80,000,000, to remain available 
     until expended.

             grants for construction of veterans cemeteries

       For grants to assist States and tribal organizations in 
     establishing, expanding, or improving veterans cemeteries as 
     authorized by section 2408 of title 38, United States Code, 
     $45,000,000, to remain available until expended.

                       Administrative Provisions

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 201.  Any appropriation for fiscal year 2017 for 
     ``Compensation and Pensions'', ``Readjustment Benefits'', and 
     ``Veterans Insurance and Indemnities'' may be transferred as 
     necessary to any other of the mentioned appropriations: 
     Provided, That, before a transfer may take place, the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall request from the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress the 
     authority to make the transfer and such Committees issue an 
     approval, or absent a response, a period of 30 days has 
     elapsed.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 202.  Amounts made available for the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2017, in this or any other 
     Act, under the ``Medical Services'', ``Medical Community 
     Care'', ``Medical Support and Compliance'', and ``Medical 
     Facilities'' accounts may be transferred among the accounts: 
     Provided, That any transfers among the ``Medical Services'', 
     ``Medical Community Care'', and ``Medical Support and 
     Compliance'' accounts of 1 percent or less of the total 
     amount appropriated to the account in this or any other Act 
     may take place subject to notification from the Secretary of 
     Veterans Affairs to the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress of the amount and purpose of the transfer: 
     Provided further, That any transfers among the ``Medical 
     Services'', ``Medical Community Care'', and ``Medical Support 
     and Compliance'' accounts in excess

[[Page H2832]]

     of 1 percent, or exceeding the cumulative 1 percent for the 
     fiscal year, may take place only after the Secretary requests 
     from the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress the authority to make the transfer and an approval 
     is issued: Provided further, That any transfers to or from 
     the ``Medical Facilities'' account may take place only after 
     the Secretary requests from the Committees on Appropriations 
     of both Houses of Congress the authority to make the transfer 
     and an approval is issued.
       Sec. 203.  Appropriations available in this title for 
     salaries and expenses shall be available for services 
     authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code; 
     hire of passenger motor vehicles; lease of a facility or land 
     or both; and uniforms or allowances therefore, as authorized 
     by sections 5901 through 5902 of title 5, United States Code.
       Sec. 204.  No appropriations in this title (except the 
     appropriations for ``Construction, Major Projects'', and 
     ``Construction, Minor Projects'') shall be available for the 
     purchase of any site for or toward the construction of any 
     new hospital or home.
       Sec. 205.  No appropriations in this title shall be 
     available for hospitalization or examination of any persons 
     (except beneficiaries entitled to such hospitalization or 
     examination under the laws providing such benefits to 
     veterans, and persons receiving such treatment under sections 
     7901 through 7904 of title 5, United States Code, or the 
     Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
     Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.)), unless reimbursement of the 
     cost of such hospitalization or examination is made to the 
     ``Medical Services'' account at such rates as may be fixed by 
     the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
       Sec. 206.  Appropriations available in this title for 
     ``Compensation and Pensions'', ``Readjustment Benefits'', and 
     ``Veterans Insurance and Indemnities'' shall be available for 
     payment of prior year accrued obligations required to be 
     recorded by law against the corresponding prior year accounts 
     within the last quarter of fiscal year 2016.
       Sec. 207.  Appropriations available in this title shall be 
     available to pay prior year obligations of corresponding 
     prior year appropriations accounts resulting from sections 
     3328(a), 3334, and 3712(a) of title 31, United States Code, 
     except that if such obligations are from trust fund accounts 
     they shall be payable only from ``Compensation and 
     Pensions''.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 208.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
     during fiscal year 2017, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     shall, from the National Service Life Insurance Fund under 
     section 1920 of title 38, United States Code, the Veterans' 
     Special Life Insurance Fund under section 1923 of title 38, 
     United States Code, and the United States Government Life 
     Insurance Fund under section 1955 of title 38, United States 
     Code, reimburse the ``General Operating Expenses, Veterans 
     Benefits Administration'' and ``Information Technology 
     Systems'' accounts for the cost of administration of the 
     insurance programs financed through those accounts: Provided, 
     That reimbursement shall be made only from the surplus 
     earnings accumulated in such an insurance program during 
     fiscal year 2017 that are available for dividends in that 
     program after claims have been paid and actuarially 
     determined reserves have been set aside: Provided further, 
     That if the cost of administration of such an insurance 
     program exceeds the amount of surplus earnings accumulated in 
     that program, reimbursement shall be made only to the extent 
     of such surplus earnings: Provided further, That the 
     Secretary shall determine the cost of administration for 
     fiscal year 2017 which is properly allocable to the provision 
     of each such insurance program and to the provision of any 
     total disability income insurance included in that insurance 
     program.
       Sec. 209.  Amounts deducted from enhanced-use lease 
     proceeds to reimburse an account for expenses incurred by 
     that account during a prior fiscal year for providing 
     enhanced-use lease services, may be obligated during the 
     fiscal year in which the proceeds are received.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 210.  Funds available in this title or funds for 
     salaries and other administrative expenses shall also be 
     available to reimburse the Office of Resolution Management of 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of 
     Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication under 
     section 319 of title 38, United States Code, for all services 
     provided at rates which will recover actual costs but not to 
     exceed $47,668,000 for the Office of Resolution Management 
     and $3,532,000 for the Office of Employment Discrimination 
     Complaint Adjudication: Provided, That payments may be made 
     in advance for services to be furnished based on estimated 
     costs: Provided further, That amounts received shall be 
     credited to the ``General Administration'' and ``Information 
     Technology Systems'' accounts for use by the office that 
     provided the service.
       Sec. 211.  No funds of the Department of Veterans Affairs 
     shall be available for hospital care, nursing home care, or 
     medical services provided to any person under chapter 17 of 
     title 38, United States Code, for a non-service-connected 
     disability described in section 1729(a)(2) of such title, 
     unless that person has disclosed to the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs, in such form as the Secretary may require, current, 
     accurate third-party reimbursement information for purposes 
     of section 1729 of such title: Provided, That the Secretary 
     may recover, in the same manner as any other debt due the 
     United States, the reasonable charges for such care or 
     services from any person who does not make such disclosure as 
     required: Provided further, That any amounts so recovered for 
     care or services provided in a prior fiscal year may be 
     obligated by the Secretary during the fiscal year in which 
     amounts are received.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 212.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
     proceeds or revenues derived from enhanced-use leasing 
     activities (including disposal) may be deposited into the 
     ``Construction, Major Projects'' and ``Construction, Minor 
     Projects'' accounts and be used for construction (including 
     site acquisition and disposition), alterations, and 
     improvements of any medical facility under the jurisdiction 
     or for the use of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Such 
     sums as realized are in addition to the amount provided for 
     in ``Construction, Major Projects'' and ``Construction, Minor 
     Projects''.
       Sec. 213.  Amounts made available under ``Medical 
     Services'' are available--
       (1) for furnishing recreational facilities, supplies, and 
     equipment; and
       (2) for funeral expenses, burial expenses, and other 
     expenses incidental to funerals and burials for beneficiaries 
     receiving care in the Department.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 214.  Such sums as may be deposited to the Medical 
     Care Collections Fund pursuant to section 1729A of title 38, 
     United States Code, may be transferred to the ``Medical 
     Services'' and ``Medical Community Care'' accounts to remain 
     available until expended for the purposes of these accounts.
       Sec. 215.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may enter into 
     agreements with Indian tribes and tribal organizations which 
     are party to the Alaska Native Health Compact with the Indian 
     Health Service, and Indian tribes and tribal organizations 
     serving rural Alaska which have entered into contracts with 
     the Indian Health Service under the Indian Self Determination 
     and Educational Assistance Act, to provide healthcare, 
     including behavioral health and dental care. The Secretary 
     shall require participating veterans and facilities to comply 
     with all appropriate rules and regulations, as established by 
     the Secretary. The term ``rural Alaska'' shall mean those 
     lands sited within the external boundaries of the Alaska 
     Native regions specified in sections 7(a)(1)-(4) and (7)-(12) 
     of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 
     U.S.C. 1606), and those lands within the Alaska Native 
     regions specified in sections 7(a)(5) and 7(a)(6) of the 
     Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 U.S.C. 
     1606), which are not within the boundaries of the 
     municipality of Anchorage, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 
     the Kenai Peninsula Borough or the Matanuska Susitna Borough.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 216.  Such sums as may be deposited to the Department 
     of Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Fund pursuant to section 
     8118 of title 38, United States Code, may be transferred to 
     the ``Construction, Major Projects'' and ``Construction, 
     Minor Projects'' accounts, to remain available until expended 
     for the purposes of these accounts.
       Sec. 217.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used to implement any policy prohibiting the Directors 
     of the Veterans Integrated Services Networks from conducting 
     outreach or marketing to enroll new veterans within their 
     respective Networks.
       Sec. 218.  Not later than 30 days after the end of each 
     fiscal quarter, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall 
     submit to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress a report on the financial status of the Department 
     of Veterans Affairs for the preceding quarter: Provided, 
     That, at a minimum, the report shall include the direction 
     contained in the explanatory statement described in section 4 
     in the matter preceding division A of the Consolidated 
     Appropriations Act, 2016, P. L. 114-113 in title II of 
     Division J of the consolidated Act in the paragraph entitled 
     ``Quarterly Report'', under the heading ``General 
     Administration''.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 219.  Amounts made available under the ``Medical 
     Services'', ``Medical Community Care'', ``Medical Support and 
     Compliance'', ``Medical Facilities'', ``General Operating 
     Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration'', ``General 
     Administration'', and ``National Cemetery Administration'' 
     accounts for fiscal year 2017 may be transferred to or from 
     the ``Information Technology Systems'' account: Provided, 
     That such transfers may not result in a more than 10 percent 
     aggregate increase in the total amount made available by this 
     Act for the ``Information Technology Systems'' account: 
     Provided further, That, before a transfer may take place, the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall request from the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress the 
     authority to make the transfer and an approval is issued.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 220.  Of the amounts appropriated to the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2017 for ``Medical 
     Services'', ``Medical Support and Compliance'', ``Medical 
     Facilities'', ``Construction, Minor Projects'', and 
     ``Information Technology Systems'', up to $274,731,000, plus 
     reimbursements, may be

[[Page H2833]]

     transferred to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of 
     Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund, 
     established by section 1704 of the National Defense 
     Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84; 
     123 Stat. 3571) and may be used for operation of the 
     facilities designated as combined Federal medical facilities 
     as described by section 706 of the Duncan Hunter National 
     Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 
     110-417; 122 Stat. 4500): Provided, That additional funds may 
     be transferred from accounts designated in this section to 
     the Joint Department of Defense-Department of Veterans 
     Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund upon written 
     notification by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress: 
     Provided further, That section 223 of title II of Division J 
     of Public Law 114-113 is repealed.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 221.  Of the amounts appropriated to the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs which become available on October 1, 2017, 
     for ``Medical Services'', ``Medical Community Care'', 
     ``Medical Support and Compliance'', and ``Medical 
     Facilities'', up to $280,802,000, plus reimbursements, may be 
     transferred to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of 
     Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund, 
     established by section 1704 of the National Defense 
     Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84; 
     123 Stat. 3571) and may be used for operation of the 
     facilities designated as combined Federal medical facilities 
     as described by section 706 of the Duncan Hunter National 
     Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 
     110-417; 122 Stat. 4500): Provided, That additional funds may 
     be transferred from accounts designated in this section to 
     the Joint Department of Defense-Department of Veterans 
     Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund upon written 
     notification by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 222.  Such sums as may be deposited to the Medical 
     Care Collections Fund pursuant to section 1729A of title 38, 
     United States Code, for healthcare provided at facilities 
     designated as combined Federal medical facilities as 
     described by section 706 of the Duncan Hunter National 
     Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 
     110-417; 122 Stat. 4500) shall also be available: (1) for 
     transfer to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of 
     Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund, 
     established by section 1704 of the National Defense 
     Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111-84; 
     123 Stat. 3571); and (2) for operations of the facilities 
     designated as combined Federal medical facilities as 
     described by section 706 of the Duncan Hunter National 
     Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 
     110-417; 122 Stat. 4500).

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 223.  Of the amounts available in this title for 
     ``Medical Services'', ``Medical Community Care'', ``Medical 
     Support and Compliance'', and ``Medical Facilities'', a 
     minimum of $15,000,000 shall be transferred to the DOD-VA 
     Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund, as authorized by section 
     8111(d) of title 38, United States Code, to remain available 
     until expended, for any purpose authorized by section 8111 of 
     title 38, United States Code.
       Sec. 224.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall notify 
     the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress 
     of all bid savings in a major construction project that total 
     at least $5,000,000, or 5 percent of the programmed amount of 
     the project, whichever is less: Provided, That such 
     notification shall occur within 14 days of a contract 
     identifying the programmed amount: Provided further, That the 
     Secretary shall notify the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress 14 days prior to the obligation of 
     such bid savings and shall describe the anticipated use of 
     such savings.
       Sec. 225.  None of the funds made available for 
     ``Construction, Major Projects'' may be used for a project in 
     excess of the scope specified for that project in the 
     original justification data provided to the Congress as part 
     of the request for appropriations unless the Secretary of 
     Veterans Affairs receives approval from the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.
       Sec. 226.  Of the funds provided to the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2017 for ``Medical Support 
     and Compliance'', a maximum of $40,000,000 may be obligated 
     from the ``Medical Support and Compliance'' account for the 
     VistA Evolution and electronic health record interoperability 
     projects: Provided, That funds in addition to these amounts 
     may be obligated for the VistA Evolution and electronic 
     health record interoperability projects upon written 
     notification by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.
       Sec. 227.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall provide 
     written notification to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress 15 days prior to organizational 
     changes which result in the transfer of 25 or more full-time 
     equivalents from one organizational unit of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs to another.
       Sec. 228.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall provide 
     on a quarterly basis to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress notification of any single national 
     outreach and awareness marketing campaign in which 
     obligations exceed $2,000,000.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 229.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, upon 
     determination that such action is necessary to address needs 
     of the Veterans Health Administration, may transfer to the 
     ``Medical Services'' account any discretionary appropriations 
     made available for fiscal year 2017 in this title (except 
     appropriations made to the ``General Operating Expenses, 
     Veterans Benefits Administration'' account) or any 
     discretionary unobligated balances within the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs, including those appropriated for fiscal 
     year 2017, that were provided in advance by appropriations 
     Acts: Provided, That transfers shall be made only with the 
     approval of the Office of Management and Budget: Provided 
     further, That the transfer authority provided in this section 
     is in addition to any other transfer authority provided by 
     law: Provided further, That no amounts may be transferred 
     from amounts that were designated by Congress as an emergency 
     requirement pursuant to a concurrent resolution on the budget 
     or the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 
     1985: Provided further, That such authority to transfer may 
     not be used unless for higher priority items, based on 
     emergent healthcare requirements, than those for which 
     originally appropriated and in no case where the item for 
     which funds are requested has been denied by Congress: 
     Provided further, That, upon determination that all or part 
     of the funds transferred from an appropriation are not 
     necessary, such amounts may be transferred back to that 
     appropriation and shall be available for the same purposes as 
     originally appropriated: Provided further, That before a 
     transfer may take place, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     shall request from the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress the authority to make the transfer and 
     receive approval of that request.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 230.  Amounts made available for the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2017, under the ``Board of 
     Veterans Appeals'' and the ``General Operating Expenses, 
     Veterans Benefits Administration'' accounts may be 
     transferred between such accounts: Provided, That before a 
     transfer may take place, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     shall request from the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress the authority to make the transfer and 
     receive approval from such Committees for such request.
       Sec. 231.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may not 
     reprogram funds among major construction projects or programs 
     if such instance of reprogramming will exceed $5,000,000, 
     unless such reprogramming is approved by the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.

                         (rescission of funds)

       Sec. 232.  Of the unobligated balances available within the 
     ``DOD-VA Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund'', $30,000,000 
     are hereby rescinded.

                         (rescissions of funds)

       Sec. 233.  Of the discretionary funds made available in 
     Public Law 114-113 for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 
     fiscal year 2017, $266,760,000 are rescinded from ``Medical 
     Services'', $52,031,000 are rescinded from ``Medical Support 
     and Compliance'', and $18,591,000 are rescinded from 
     ``Medical Facilities''.
       Sec. 234.  The amounts otherwise made available by this Act 
     for the following accounts of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs are hereby reduced by the following amounts:
       (1) ``Veterans Health Administration--Medical and 
     Prosthetic Research'', $4,004,000.
       (2) ``National Cemetery Administration'', $1,464,000.
       (3) ``Departmental Administration--General 
     Administration'', $1,250,000.
       (4) ``Departmental Administration--Board of Veterans 
     Appeals'', $1,214,000.
       (5) ``Departmental Administration--General Operating 
     Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration'', $24,849,000.
       (6) ``Departmental Administration--Information Technology 
     Systems'', $12,535,000.
       (7) ``Departmental Administration--Office of Inspector 
     General'', $1,302,000.
       Sec. 235.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure 
     that the toll-free suicide hotline under section 1720F(h) of 
     title 38, United States Code--
       (1) provides to individuals who contact the hotline 
     immediate assistance from a trained professional; and
       (2) adheres to all requirements of the American Association 
     of Suicidology.
       Sec. 236. (a) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall treat 
     a marriage and family therapist described in subsection (b) 
     as qualified to serve as a marriage and family therapist in 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs, regardless of any 
     requirements established by the Commission on Accreditation 
     for Marriage and Family Therapy Education.
        (b) A marriage and family therapist described in this 
     subsection is a therapist who meets each of the following 
     criteria:
       (1) Has a masters or higher degree in marriage and family 
     therapy, or a related field, from a regionally accredited 
     program.
       (2) Is licensed as a marriage and family therapist in a 
     State (as defined in section

[[Page H2834]]

     101(20) of title 38, United States Code) and possesses the 
     highest level of licensure offered from the State.
       (3) Has passed the Association of Marital and Family 
     Therapy Regulatory Board Examination in Marital and Family 
     Therapy.
       Sec. 237.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay a 
     performance award under section 5384 of title 5, United 
     States Code.
       Sec. 238.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to end, suspend, or relocate hospital-based services 
     with respect to a health care facility of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs that is--
       (1) the subject of an environmental impact statement in 
     accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 
     (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.);
       (2) designated as a National Historic Landmark by the 
     National Park Service; and
       (3) located in a highly rural area.

                               TITLE III

                            RELATED AGENCIES

                  American Battle Monuments Commission

                         salaries and expenses

       For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, of the 
     American Battle Monuments Commission, including the 
     acquisition of land or interest in land in foreign countries; 
     purchases and repair of uniforms for caretakers of national 
     cemeteries and monuments outside of the United States and its 
     territories and possessions; rent of office and garage space 
     in foreign countries; purchase (one-for-one replacement basis 
     only) and hire of passenger motor vehicles; not to exceed 
     $7,500 for official reception and representation expenses; 
     and insurance of official motor vehicles in foreign 
     countries, when required by law of such countries, 
     $75,100,000, to remain available until expended.

                 foreign currency fluctuations account

       For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, of the 
     American Battle Monuments Commission, such sums as may be 
     necessary, to remain available until expended, for purposes 
     authorized by section 2109 of title 36, United States Code.

           United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

                         salaries and expenses

       For necessary expenses for the operation of the United 
     States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims as authorized by 
     sections 7251 through 7298 of title 38, United States Code, 
     $30,945,000: Provided, That $2,500,000 shall be available for 
     the purpose of providing financial assistance as described, 
     and in accordance with the process and reporting procedures 
     set forth, under this heading in Public Law 102-229.

                      Department of Defense--Civil

                       Cemeterial Expenses, Army

                         salaries and expenses

       For necessary expenses for maintenance, operation, and 
     improvement of Arlington National Cemetery and Soldiers' and 
     Airmen's Home National Cemetery, including the purchase or 
     lease of passenger motor vehicles for replacement on a one-
     for-one basis only, and not to exceed $1,000 for official 
     reception and representation expenses, $70,800,000, of which 
     not to exceed $15,000,000 shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2019. In addition, such sums as may be 
     necessary for parking maintenance, repairs and replacement, 
     to be derived from the ``Lease of Department of Defense Real 
     Property for Defense Agencies'' account.

                      Armed Forces Retirement Home

                               trust fund

       For expenses necessary for the Armed Forces Retirement Home 
     to operate and maintain the Armed Forces Retirement Home--
     Washington, District of Columbia, and the Armed Forces 
     Retirement Home--Gulfport, Mississippi, to be paid from funds 
     available in the Armed Forces Retirement Home Trust Fund, 
     $64,300,000, of which $1,000,000 shall remain available until 
     expended for construction and renovation of the physical 
     plants at the Armed Forces Retirement Home--Washington, 
     District of Columbia, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home--
     Gulfport, Mississippi: Provided, That of the amounts made 
     available under this heading from funds available in the 
     Armed Forces Retirement Home Trust Fund, $22,000,000 shall be 
     paid from the general fund of the Treasury to the Trust Fund.

                       Administrative Provisions

       Sec. 301.  Funds appropriated in this Act under the heading 
     ``Department of Defense--Civil, Cemeterial Expenses, Army'', 
     may be provided to Arlington County, Virginia, for the 
     relocation of the federally owned water main at Arlington 
     National Cemetery, making additional land available for 
     ground burials.
       Sec. 302.  Amounts deposited into the special account 
     established under 10 U.S.C. 4727 are appropriated and shall 
     be available until expended to support activities at the Army 
     National Military Cemeteries.

                                TITLE IV

                    OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS

                         DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

                      Military Construction, Army

       For an additional amount for ``Military Construction, 
     Army'', $18,900,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2021, for projects outside of the United States: Provided, 
     That such amount is designated by the Congress for Overseas 
     Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to 
     section 251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency 
     Deficit Control Act of 1985.

                              {time}  2340


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Mr. Chair, parliamentary inquiry.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Where are we?
  The CHAIR. The bill has been read through page 65, line 1.
  Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Mr. Chair, that was the quickest 25 
pages I have heard in a long time.


                   Amendment Offered by Mr. Mulvaney

  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk. Actually, I 
have four consecutive amendments at the desk.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I reserve a point of order on the gentleman's 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. A point of order is reserved.


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, parliamentary inquiry.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Is it possible, with the approval of the gentleman who 
is controlling the time for the majority, to combine amendment Nos. 1, 
2, 3, and 4 into a single amendment?
  The CHAIR. The amendments could be considered together by unanimous 
consent.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I respectfully object. We haven't seen any of 
the amendments yet; so I think we should just proceed in the regular 
order.
  The CHAIR. Objection is heard.
  The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Strike page 65, lines 1-11.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from South 
Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney) and a Member opposed each will control 5 
minutes.


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chair, parliamentary inquiry.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Do we have the text of the amendment?
  The CHAIR. Copies will be made available. They are being distributed 
now.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I reserve a point of order until we get the 
amendments.
  The CHAIR. A point of order is reserved.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.
  Mr. MULVANEY of South Carolina. Mr. Chair, I have four consecutive 
amendments that are all very closely intertwined. There are actually 
four simply for procedural matters that I offered originally as one. I 
am going to argue all of them together essentially at one time because 
this is what they do: they get rid of the OCO budget. That is it. They 
get rid of the OCO budget. Title IV of this bill is the OCO budget, and 
my amendments seek to simply be done with this thing.
  Mr. Chair, it has turned into a slush fund. That is not me saying 
that, by the way. That is folks from both Republican and Democrat 
administrations, together, saying that is what this is. It may have 
started with the best of intentions. It may have started out of 
absolute necessity. It may have been a good thing when it started, but 
we all know what it is now, which is a place to hide money and a way to 
get around spending caps. That is it.
  Mr. Chair, I hope I get a chance over the course of the next couple 
of appropriations bills to talk more about the OCO and more about 
specific examples of how it is abused. We actually now admit that we 
abuse it. We admit that there is money in the OCO budget that has 
nothing to do with overseas contingency operations. We admit that there 
is money in the OCO budget right now that has nothing to do with waging 
war overseas.
  We admit that we abuse this particular account. Why? Because we can 
and because it is very difficult to vote against the troops. That is 
not the right way to appropriate money.
  John McCain, a man with whom I usually disagree on many, many things, 
has actually said this is not the way to appropriate money for

[[Page H2835]]

MILCON-VA, for the DOD. For anything that has to do with defense, this 
is not the proper way to do it. Mr. Chair, in fact, as we look at the 
individual sections, it gets even worse.
  In this first section that deals with the Army, we are appropriating 
$18.9 million for no one knows what. There is no indication whatsoever 
as to what we are spending this money on. The language is very 
straightforward. It reads that we are going to go and appropriate $18.9 
million to remain available until September 30, 2021, for projects 
outside the United States. Period. That is it. $19 million with 
absolutely no indication of where it is being spent. In fact, we don't 
even have to spend it next year. We can spend it anytime we want to 
over the next 5 years. As long as it is outside of the United States, 
we are approving its expenditure.
  By the way, you can go down to the next line where the same is true 
of the $59.8 million for the Marine Corps construction, of the $88.2 
million for the Air Force construction, and then of the $5 million for 
military construction defensewide.
  There is no indication of how this money is being spent. There is no 
limitation on when it is spent other than we have to spend it in 5 
years, and there is no indication on where it is going to be spent 
other than it has to be outside of the United States. That is it. It is 
hard for me to imagine an example of a less accountable, a less 
transparent way for us to spend money in this country.
  I have been spending some time on this for the last couple of years. 
I have always thought that this was a bad way for us to operate. I know 
that, every single year, we gather a couple more in adherence to that 
belief. We get a couple more votes every single year--folks who are 
finally waking up to the fact that, listen, we need to spend money on 
the military, that we need to spend money on the defense of this 
Nation. It is one of the few things we are affirmatively charged with 
in our Constitution, but this is not the way to do it.
  We can't lie to people back home about how much money we are 
spending. We can't lie to people back home about what the deficit is 
going to be. We certainly can't lie to them about where they are 
spending their money. Let's stop doing it this way and start doing it 
properly.
  Mr. Chair, for that reason, I encourage the support for this 
amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's 
amendment for a few reasons.
  The OCO money in this bill totals $172 million. He is correct, it is 
about $18.9 million for the Army.
  Much of this money is going to support counterterrorism efforts and 
the European Reassurance Initiative. We are going to be using this 
money for, obviously, infrastructure and for the prepositioning of 
assets. Given the real threats we are facing in Europe from Vladimir 
Putin, we need to make sure that we are reassuring our allies in 
Eastern Europe.
  This subcommittee recently visited Eastern Europe--Poland, Lithuania, 
Germany--where we heard from General Breedlove, the Supreme Allied 
Commander of NATO, talk about the need for this initiative. I think it 
is imperative that we reassure our allies in Eastern Europe, who are 
staring down--who are facing a very real threat--from Vladimir Putin's 
aggression in Ukraine, and we are deeply concerned that his 
expansionist ambitions may move into the Baltic.
  This is extremely important, this OCO funding. I urge my colleagues 
to reject any reduction in the OCO funding for the men and women of the 
American Army.
  I withdraw my reservation of a point of order, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.

                              {time}  2350

  The CHAIR. The reservation of the point of order is withdrawn.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, how much time do I have remaining?
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from South Carolina has 1 minute remaining.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, it is hard to argue with that. This money is 
going for counterterrorism. It is going for the preposition of assets. 
It is going for reassuring our allies. It is going to combat Mr. Putin 
or constrain him in Ukraine. I am a little hard pressed as to how $178-
odd-million is going to do all of those things.
  Face it, we have to take the gentleman's word for it. And as much as 
I trust the gentleman, why isn't that in the document? Why doesn't it 
say $18.9 million for this counterterrorism program or that 
repositioning of assets? It doesn't say that. We have no idea what this 
money is for. None whatsoever.
  Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania, and I 
appreciate the opportunity to have my say.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I would like to point out that where this 
money is going to be expended is in the report, and it is also online 
in many of the budget documents. So the information is available where 
the money is actually going to be spent. I just wanted to share that.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from South Carolina will be 
postponed.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

              Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       For an additional amount for ``Military Construction, Navy 
     and Marine Corps'', $59,809,000, to remain available until 
     September 30, 2021, for projects outside of the United 
     States: Provided, That such amount is designated by the 
     Congress for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on 
     Terrorism pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the 
     Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

                   Amendment Offered by Mr. Mulvaney

  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk. I indicated 
before, I have had my say. We are going to go through the motions on 
the next three.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Strike page 65, lines 12-20.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from South 
Carolina and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chairman, I have had my say. I move approval.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, this money, I guess, would strike the OCO 
funding for the Navy. The money for the Navy is going to be used in 
Djibouti, I believe, for a runway and also for a medical and dental 
facility for our troops.
  So I, again, respectfully oppose the gentleman's amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. 
Bishop).
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chair, I want to associate myself with the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania in opposition to the amendment.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from South Carolina will be 
postponed.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                    Military Construction, Air Force

       For an additional amount for ``Military Construction, Air 
     Force'' $88,291,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2021, for

[[Page H2836]]

     projects outside of the United States: Provided, That such 
     amount is designated by the Congress for Overseas Contingency 
     Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to section 
     251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit 
     Control Act of 1985.


                   Amendment Offered by Mr. Mulvaney

  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Strike page 65, line 21 through page 66, line 3.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from South 
Carolina and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I move approval.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I claim the time in opposition to the 
amendment.
  Mr. CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, this funding, I believe, for the Air Force, this 
is going to be directed toward Bulgaria, Spangdahlem, Iceland, Poland, 
Lithuania, and Estonia.
  Again, I oppose the amendment. It is very important to our allies, 
particularly as it relates to the European Reassurance Initiative.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from South Carolina will be 
postponed.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                  Military Construction, Defense-Wide

       For an additional amount for ``Military Construction, 
     Defense-Wide'', $5,000,000, to remain available until 
     September 30, 2021, for projects outside of the United 
     States: Provided, That such amount is designated by the 
     Congress for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on 
     Terrorism pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the 
     Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.


                   Amendment Offered by Mr. Mulvaney

  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk, No. 4.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Strike page 66, line 4-11.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from South 
Carolina and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from South Carolina.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I move approval.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I oppose the amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from South Carolina (Mr. Mulvaney).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from South Carolina will be 
postponed.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                TITLE V

                           GENERAL PROVISIONS

       Sec. 501.  No part of any appropriation contained in this 
     Act shall remain available for obligation beyond the current 
     fiscal year unless expressly so provided herein.
       Sec. 502.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used for any program, project, or activity, when it is 
     made known to the Federal entity or official to which the 
     funds are made available that the program, project, or 
     activity is not in compliance with any Federal law relating 
     to risk assessment, the protection of private property 
     rights, or unfunded mandates.
       Sec. 503.  All departments and agencies funded under this 
     Act are encouraged, within the limits of the existing 
     statutory authorities and funding, to expand their use of 
     ``E-Commerce'' technologies and procedures in the conduct of 
     their business practices and public service activities.
       Sec. 504.  Unless stated otherwise, all reports and 
     notifications required by this Act shall be submitted to the 
     Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, 
     and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations of 
     the House of Representatives and the Subcommittee on Military 
     Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies of 
     the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.
       Sec. 505.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be transferred to any department, agency, or instrumentality 
     of the United States Government except pursuant to a transfer 
     made by, or transfer authority provided in, this or any other 
     appropriations Act.
       Sec. 506.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used for a project or program named for an individual 
     serving as a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner of 
     the United States House of Representatives.
       Sec. 507. (a) Any agency receiving funds made available in 
     this Act, shall, subject to subsections (b) and (c), post on 
     the public Web site of that agency any report required to be 
     submitted by the Congress in this or any other Act, upon the 
     determination by the head of the agency that it shall serve 
     the national interest.
       (b) Subsection (a) shall not apply to a report if--
       (1) the public posting of the report compromises national 
     security; or
       (2) the report contains confidential or proprietary 
     information.
       (c) The head of the agency posting such report shall do so 
     only after such report has been made available to the 
     requesting Committee or Committees of Congress for no less 
     than 45 days.
       Sec. 508. (a) None of the funds made available in this Act 
     may be used to maintain or establish a computer network 
     unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and 
     exchanging of pornography.
       (b) Nothing in subsection (a) shall limit the use of funds 
     necessary for any Federal, State, tribal, or local law 
     enforcement agency or any other entity carrying out criminal 
     investigations, prosecution, or adjudication activities.
       Sec. 509.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used by an agency of the executive branch to pay for 
     first-class travel by an employee of the agency in 
     contravention of sections 301-10.122 through 301-10.124 of 
     title 41, Code of Federal Regulations.
       Sec. 510.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used to execute a contract for goods or services, 
     including construction services, where the contractor has not 
     complied with Executive Order No. 12989.
       Sec. 511.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used by the Department of Defense or the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs to lease or purchase new light duty vehicles 
     for any executive fleet, or for an agency's fleet inventory, 
     except in accordance with Presidential Memorandum--Federal 
     Fleet Performance, dated May 24, 2011.
       Sec. 512. (a) In General.--None of the funds appropriated 
     or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense in 
     this Act may be used to construct, renovate, or expand any 
     facility in the United States, its territories, or 
     possessions to house any individual detained at United States 
     Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the purposes of 
     detention or imprisonment in the custody or under the control 
     of the Department of Defense.
       (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply to 
     any modification of facilities at United States Naval 
     Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
       (c) An individual described in this subsection is any 
     individual who, as of June 24, 2009, is located at United 
     States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and who--
       (1) is not a citizen of the United States or a member of 
     the Armed Forces of the United States; and
       (2) is--
       (A) in the custody or under the effective control of the 
     Department of Defense; or
       (B) otherwise under detention at United States Naval 
     Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
       Sec. 513.  Unobligated balances of amounts appropriated 
     under title VI of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human 
     Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 
     2015 (division G of Public Law 113-235) and title IX of the 
     Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs 
     Appropriations Act, 2015 (division J of Public Law 113-235) 
     shall also be available for necessary expenses to prevent, 
     prepare for, and respond to Zika virus, domestically and 
     internationally: Provided, That such amounts are designated 
     by the Congress as an emergency requirement pursuant to 
     section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency 
     Deficit Control Act of 1985, except that such amounts shall 
     be available only if the President subsequently so designates 
     such amounts and transmits such designation to the Congress.

[[Page H2837]]

  


                       spending reduction account

       Sec. 514.  The amount by which the applicable allocation of 
     new budget authority made by the Committee on Appropriations 
     of the House of Representatives under section 302(b) of the 
     Congressional Budget Act of 1974 exceeds the amount of 
     proposed new budget authority is $0.

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I move to strike the last word.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield to the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. 
Wenstrup).
  Mr. WENSTRUP. Mr. Chairman, I would like to raise some concerns I 
have about VA's efforts to streamline the catalog of surgical tools 
that are available to VA Medical Centers.
  I share the VA's goals of increasing efficiency and purchasing power. 
However, I am concerned that there is a reliance on single-source 
contracts, and here is why: I believe single-award contracts are too 
limited and will reduce choice for surgeons.
  As a surgeon myself, I know practitioners have specific preferences 
and a comfort for what tools work best in their hands. Surgical 
residents learn when they have more options, more techniques in front 
of them and innovations.
  Often, when surgeons are restricted, they practice elsewhere. I am 
concerned that limiting surgeons' options will have an effect on the 
morale and retention of surgeons in the VA, and I think the last thing 
the VA needs right now is to lose more providers.
  I also know that patients have different needs. Every surgery case is 
unique due to the individual patient anatomy, comorbidities, et cetera.
  So I would just like to be assured that surgeons will have 
flexibility, which means more choice and better care for veterans and 
for our patients. Unfortunately, in my efforts to get this assurance, I 
get conflicting information from various sources within the VA.
  Multiyear, single-award contracts are irreparable if we get them 
wrong. I would like to work with the chairman and the authorizing 
committee to conduct oversight on this issue to ensure that we do get 
this right because we can't lose more surgeons and we can't compromise 
care for our veterans.

                              {time}  0000

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, reclaiming my time, I certainly understand the 
gentleman's sincere desire to provide better care to our veterans. As 
it relates to the single-source issue, single-source contracts, 
obviously he has a great deal of expertise. I would like to work with 
the gentleman to get more information about the issue and work with 
him, but also, again, I also commend him to the authorizers, who will 
have a great deal of say on this matter as well. I pledge to him my 
commitment to work with him to try to get to a better place on this 
matter.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


                Amendment No. 2 Offered by Mr. Ratcliffe

  Mr. RATCLIFFE. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to propose, plan for, or execute a new or additional 
     Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from Texas 
and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. RATCLIFFE. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank Chairman Dent and 
Ranking Member Bishop for their hard work on behalf of servicemembers 
and veterans all across the country.
  The Ratcliffe-MacArthur-Bost amendment that I am offering today with 
my colleagues, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. MacArthur) and the 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Bost), will prohibit any funds made 
available in this act from being used to propose, plan for, or execute 
a new or additional round of base realignment and closure, or BRAC.
  My congressional district in northeast Texas is home to the Red River 
Army Depot, which has maintained a steadfast commitment to supporting 
America's Armed Forces since 1941. While the depot has endured many 
challenges over the years, it has remained dedicated to fulfilling its 
motto: ``We build it as if our lives depend on it. Theirs do.''
  Not only is the depot a vital job creator, employing more than 5,000 
people in northeast Texas and southern Arkansas, it is a critical 
component of our national defense. The depot acts as an insurance 
policy for America's security, one capable of bolstering production in 
a manner that simply can't be duplicated by civilian industries. So the 
need for this amendment is clear.
  In a fiscal environment where every penny is carefully scrutinized, 
we have to ensure that taxpayer dollars truly address our national 
security needs, and another round of BRAC certainly won't help us 
achieve this important goal. In addition to jeopardizing our defense 
readiness, BRAC has proven to be incredibly expensive. According to the 
Government Accountability Office, the last round of BRAC in 2005 cost 
the American taxpayers a whopping $35.1 billion. At the same time, the 
expected savings from the last round of BRAC haven't materialized, and 
those promised savings have since been revised downward by 73 percent.
  Mr. Chairman, at a time when the terror threat level hovers at an 
all-time high, it is especially important that we do everything 
possible to ensure that our military is prepared for the call of duty. 
The amendment that I have introduced today does just that. I urge my 
colleagues to support it on behalf of the safety of our Armed Forces 
and the American people.
  I yield to the chairman.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I just want to say I have no objection to the 
gentleman's amendment, and I am prepared to accept it.
  Mr. RATCLIFFE. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Ratcliffe).
  The amendment was agreed to.


               Amendment No. 3 Offered by Mr. Blumenauer

  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to implement, administer, or enforce Veterans Health 
     Administration directive 2011-004 (or directive of the same 
     substance) with respect to the prohibition on ``VA providers 
     from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions 
     regarding a Veteran's participation in a State marijuana 
     program''.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Oregon and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oregon.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 3 minutes.
  Mr. Chairman, one of the great concerns we have is how the 2 million 
young Americans who were sent to Iraq and Afghanistan reintegrate back 
into society. Many of them return with wounds visible and invisible. We 
find that more than 20 percent of those 2.8 million American veterans 
suffer from PTSD and depression. A recent survey revealed that suicide 
rates among veterans are roughly 50 percent higher than among 
civilians. Another study found that the death rate for opioid overdoses 
among VA patients is nearly double the national average.
  What I hear from veterans that I talk to is that an overwhelming 
number of them say that medical marijuana has helped them deal with 
PTSD, pain, and other conditions, particularly as an alternative to 
opioids, and I would argue that it is essential that veterans be 
allowed access to this as a treatment if it is legal in their State.
  Twenty-four States, the District of Columbia, and Guam have passed 
laws that provide for legal access to medical marijuana at the 
recommendation of a physician to treat such conditions, ranging from 
seizures to glaucoma, anxiety, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, 
and the symptoms associated with chemotherapy. Fourteen of these States 
specifically allow physicians to recommend medical marijuana for the 
symptoms of post-traumatic stress, PTSD.
  As a result of these medical marijuana laws, more than 2 million 
patients across the country, including

[[Page H2838]]

many of our veterans, now use medical marijuana. Unfortunately, the 
Department of Veterans Affairs specifically prohibits its medical 
providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking 
recommendations regarding a veteran's participation in a State medical 
marijuana program. What this means is that those patients who want to 
pursue medical marijuana have to go ahead and hire a physician out of 
their own pocket, not dealing with the medical professional of their 
choice, the medical professional, their VA doctor, who knows them the 
best. I think that is unfortunate.
  I have an amendment cosponsored by Dr. Joe Heck, Sam Farr, Dana 
Rohrabacher, Dina Titus, Tom Reed, and others that would prohibit funds 
from being made available to the VA to implement this prohibition. I 
think it is the right thing to do for our veterans, to be able to treat 
them equitably, to enable them to have access to the doctor who knows 
them the best, giving them better treatment, and saving them money. I 
would respectfully request that we approve this amendment to eliminate 
this unjustified prohibition.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I rise up somewhat reluctantly to my friend 
in opposition.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Blumenauer is a very genuine and sincere, very 
thoughtful Member of this body. I understand that the country is 
evolving on this issue, as many States, including my own, have moved 
forward on medical marijuana.
  As a Member of this House, I am a bit uncomfortable, however, in 
trying to dictate policy on marijuana without guidance from the Food 
and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and other 
medical professionals. That said, I reluctantly rise in opposition.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I am prepared to close. I am going to 
close when you have exhausted your speakers.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment that is 
offered by Mr. Blumenauer. Last year in Georgia, the general assembly 
passed and Governor Deal signed legislation that immediately legalized 
the use of medical marijuana to treat serious medical conditions. 
Georgia became the 36th State plus Washington, D.C., to legalize 
marijuana extracts to treat illnesses.
  I believe that we should not limit the Veterans Health Administration 
from providing optimal pain care for our veterans. If medical marijuana 
is legal in a State, then the VA should be able to discuss that 
treatment option and allow the veteran to make his or her own choice.
  I believe that the VA's published policy guidance related to the use 
of medical marijuana by our veteran patients, VHA Directive 2010-035, 
Medical Marijuana, has become outdated. I believe that supporting a 
veteran's right to use alternative methods to deal with pain is the 
right thing to do.
  Mr. Chairman, I support the amendment, and I urge its adoption.
  I yield back the balance of my time.

                              {time}  0010

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, as I said, I reluctantly oppose the 
amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, there is nobody who I have more respect 
for than my friend, the chairman of the subcommittee. But I take modest 
exception.
  This amendment does not dictate treatment options. It is not 
interfering, it is not superimposing anybody's judgment about the 
merits of marijuana. It simply enables VA doctors and patients to 
interact with State legal marijuana systems--systems that this Congress 
has repeatedly supported through amendment votes, just like everybody 
else.
  We should not be limiting the treatment options available to our 
veterans. I fail to understand what the basis is to force veterans in 
the State of Pennsylvania who feel that they need to avail themselves 
of medical marijuana, like any other citizen in Pennsylvania or in 
Oregon has a right to do, but force them to not use the doctor that 
knows them best; instead, go to somebody else, hire them out of their 
own pocket, and be engaging with somebody who doesn't know their full 
range of activity.
  This doesn't engage the Veterans Administration. There is no 
marijuana on premises. It simply allows the doctor to be able to deal 
with the veteran, as a patient, to be able to counsel and potentially 
prescribe them, like any other person in any other State where it is 
legal.
  Bear in mind that these people are suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, 
depression, conditions that medical marijuana is legally entitled to 
treat and which veterans, who I have met with literally from coast-to-
coast, say has transformed their lives.
  What we are doing now, they are dying at a higher rate than the 
average member of the population. Their suicide rate is high. Their 
opioid addiction rate is almost twice as high as the average citizen. I 
think that is unconscionable. We should have this amendment to try and 
help address it.
  Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from Oregon will be postponed.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Fleming

  Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), add the 
     following new section:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to modify a military installation in the United 
     States, including construction or modification of a facility 
     on a military installation, to provide temporary housing for 
     unaccompanied alien children.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Louisiana and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana.
  Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chairman, my amendment would prohibit funds from 
being used to modify a military installation for the purpose of housing 
unaccompanied alien children.
  Our military installations are for training and equipping soldiers to 
fight our Nation's wars. The use of DOD facilities to house 
unaccompanied alien children undermines the readiness of our Armed 
Forces, which we know to be in extremis at this point.
  This amendment follows on from a provision included in the National 
Defense Authorization Act, passed out of the House Armed Services 
Committee, that prohibits unaccompanied alien children from being 
hosted on military installations. A similar standalone bill has also 
been introduced by Judge John Carter of Texas and has 61 cosponsors.
  Under recent agreements made by the Department of Health and Human 
Services, the DOD has provided housing to unaccompanied alien children 
with certain requirements and preferences being requested by HHS that 
facilities be able to provide space for security fencing, service 
trailers, and potential soft-sided outdoor housing.
  It is inappropriate for scarce defense dollars, meant to go for the 
readiness of our soldiers, to be used for nondefense purposes, 
especially at this time in our Nation's history when our readiness is 
so low.
  Take, for example, the Army Air Defense and Artillery training site 
at Fort Sill, where unaccompanied minors were housed in 2014. These 
barracks were used by HHS, and resources had to be expended to ensure 
HHS contractors and the minors being hosted did not gain access to 
sensitive areas and live-fire training ranges.
  Fort Hood was also on the short list for hosting unaccompanied minors 
in 2015. Because of this, the Texas National Guard was unable to stand 
up a training facility because the base was being considered to host 
these unaccompanied minors.

[[Page H2839]]

  Our military infrastructure is in serious need of upgrading and 
construction dollars are scarce. Mr. Chairman, the slightest use of 
resources to modify an installation to meet nondefense missions 
jeopardizes the readiness of our Armed Forces.
  Following on the prohibition placed in this year's House NDAA, I ask 
my colleagues to support my amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the gentleman's 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, there are no projects in the FY 17 request 
for this purpose in the United States. There is $33 million in funds to 
support the naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the request of 
SOCOM, Southern Command, to deal with various issues of people, 
obviously, who were interdicting on the seas or arriving in Cuba.
  But the point is, I don't want to preclude the Department of Defense 
from dealing with an emergency situation, should one arise in the U.S. 
So that is why I must oppose my friend's amendment.
  I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Georgia 
(Mr. Bishop), my distinguished colleague and ranking member.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Chair, we have an opportunity and an obligation to help migrant 
children who have come across the border to escape the problems with 
their homeland. The challenges of poverty and violence continue to 
grow, and it is a moral obligation and one that I support.
  To not allow the use of military installations for temporary housing 
for migrants only exacerbates the problem. This is temporary. Why would 
we prohibit the use of bases only until the adjudication of a migrant's 
case, for example? Is my colleague suggesting that we immediately send 
migrant children back to the countries they fled without due process? 
Should we send them back to violence?
  That is not what the United States stands for. It is not what the 
United States should stand for. It is not consistent with our country's 
Christian values.
  I urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I agree with the 
chairman.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chairman, may I inquire how much time I have?
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Louisiana has 2\1/2\ minutes remaining. 
The gentleman from Pennsylvania has 3 minutes remaining.
  Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chair, I thank my friends and colleagues for their 
comments and statements, but I simply have to disagree. Again, this is 
about military readiness, which we are at a low, low point.
  We are getting all sorts of reports. We are having hearings from 
generals, commanders in the field, and generals at the Pentagon, 
telling us that they are scratching for every little penny they can 
find for readiness.
  In fact, just the other night on FOX News, they talked about a Marine 
Corps F-18. They had to go to a museum just to find a part to put on 
that in order for it to go into service.
  Look, if it is important to provide facilities for unaccompanied 
alien children, then the Appropriations Committee should appropriate 
those dollars. But they should not take them from the vital military 
facilities. They shouldn't take scarce dollars away from our readiness. 
As a result of that, again, I urge my colleagues to support the 
amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chair, again, I just ask my colleagues to support 
this. This is common sense. We need to protect our soldiers, sailors, 
airmen, as well as marines. We need to make sure that they are safe out 
there, that every dollar is put into readiness to protect them, and it 
should not be diverted in this way. Again, I urge support of this 
amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Louisiana (Mr. Fleming).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from Louisiana will be 
postponed.

                              {time}  0020


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Huffman

  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to implement section 8(d)(2) of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration Directive 
     3220 of November 22, 2005.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
California and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I am pleased to offer this amendment to the 2017 MILCON-VA spending 
bill, and to stand today with my colleague, the gentleman from Arizona 
(Mr. Gallego), who has offered a stand-alone bill on this same subject, 
along with our colleague from Minnesota (Mr. Ellison).
  Last year, we all remember the tragic shooting at the Emanuel African 
Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and how it 
reopened a painful but necessary national conversation about symbols 
like the Confederate battle flag that represent racism, slavery, and 
division.
  Rightfully, leaders in South Carolina and other Southern States, 
Democrats and Republicans alike, joined together to call on their 
States to end the display of the Confederate battle flag on government 
property.
  The Confederate battle flag, a symbol of hate and opposition to the 
United States of America, has no place, no place on government 
property, especially not at VA cemeteries, a place where families and 
loved ones go to pay respect to our Nation's veterans.
  Over 150 years ago, slavery was abolished. Why in the year 2016 are 
we still condoning displays of this hateful symbol on our sacred 
national cemeteries?
  Symbols like the Confederate battle flag have meaning. They are not 
just neutral, historical symbols of pride. They represent slavery, 
oppression, lynching, and hate.
  To continue to allow national policy condoning the display of this 
symbol on Federal property is wrong, and it is disrespectful to what 
our country stands for and what our veterans fight for.
  Mr. Chairman, it is past time to end the public promotion of this 
cruel, racist legacy of the Confederacy. So let us move forward in a 
direction of reconciliation, unity, and justice.
  Symbols matter. Even General Robert E. Lee recognized that symbols of 
the Confederacy are symbols of treason, which is why he asked that they 
not appear at his funeral.
  The United States House of Representatives, in 2016, should be at 
least as forward-looking as Robert E. Lee was in 1869.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment to the amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from California is under recognition.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. I reserve a point of order.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from California is recognized on his pending 
amendment.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. On the point of order?
  The CHAIR. On his amendment.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Speaker, my point is that the House of 
Representatives, in 2016, should be at least as forward-looking as 
General Robert E. Lee was in 1869.
  Let us do the right thing tonight in this House, and let's do it 
together, on a bipartisan basis.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MULVANEY. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment to the amendment.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order.
  The CHAIR. Will the gentleman send his amendment to the desk?

[[Page H2840]]

  

  Mr. MULVANEY. Yes, sir.
  Mr. Chairman, I withdraw my amendment.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. Does any Member seek time in opposition to the amendment 
offered by the gentleman from California?
  The gentleman from California may proceed on his amendment.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Chairman, I request an ``aye'' vote, and I 
respectfully yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from California (Mr. Huffman).
  The question was taken; and the Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. HUFFMAN. Mr. Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on 
the amendment offered by the gentleman from California will be 
postponed.


                  Amendment Offered by Mr. Fitzpatrick

  Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used to procure the birth control known as Essure.

  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Speaker, I want to start by recognizing my 
colleague from Pennsylvania (Mr. Dent), the chairman of the 
subcommittee, for his diligence and his hard work in bringing this 
important bill to the floor and, more importantly, for his work on the 
bill, and listening to ideas coming from both sides of the aisle, and 
his fairness in considering all ideas as part of this bill. So I thank 
the gentleman for that.

                              {time}  0030

  I rise this evening in support of an amendment that is common sense. 
It is a no-brainer. What this amendment would do is say, if a medical 
device is under review by the FDA over concerns of its harmful impacts 
on women, the Federal Government shouldn't be spending taxpayer dollars 
to offer it to our Nation's veterans.
  The medical device I am referring to is the permanent sterilization 
device, Essure. Essure is a permanent sterilization device that was 
approved by the FDA in 2002. However, since it was first approved, this 
device has caused irreparable harm to tens of thousands of women and 
their families.
  FDA data shows that Essure has caused the death of at least four 
women and nearly 300 fetal deaths. Additionally, tens of thousands of 
women have reported other symptoms which are debilitating.
  Over 25,000 women have joined together on Facebook to share their 
stories of how the Essure device has ruined their lives. They call 
themselves the Essure Sisters. They came together as a group because 
nobody believed them--for many, not even their doctors. They were told 
that this device was safe and there was no way the device caused their 
pain and other symptoms. But that proved to be wrong. We don't need 
another study. Their pain is real. Their stories are real. They have 
been ignored by their doctors, by the device manufacturer, and by the 
Food and Drug Administration.
  I rise today as a voice for these women, to tell this Chamber that 
their stories are real, that their pain is real, and that their fight 
is real. Working with them over the last year, we have been able to 
force the FDA to call for yet another review of this flawed device, and 
this request was made by Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber.
  Yet the product remains available, sometimes aggressively pushed. 
And, as it relates to this appropriations bill, Essure remains on the 
list of federally purchased devices. We know that this device has 
already harmed female veterans.
  I want to give a direct quote from an Essure Sister and Operation 
Enduring Freedom veteran: ``I still live in massive chronic pain, and 
I'm on pain meds every day of my life. I cannot do the things I used to 
do with my children and my husband. Each day that I live with this 
newfound pain and suffering, I grow more and more disgusted at the fact 
that both he and I traveled to the war multiple times and made it home, 
only to have a device forced upon us that would ruin our lives and my 
health.''
  Mr. Chairman, this amendment is not about women's reproductive 
decisions or a debate about contraceptives. It is about protecting our 
female veterans from being harmed by a device that we know has ruined 
the lives of thousands across this Nation. All I am saying is we should 
not allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase and implant 
this dangerous device in our Nation's veterans.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition of this amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DENT. I do want to commend Mr. Fitzpatrick for his diligence and 
his attentiveness to his constituency. I know he feels very sincerely 
about this particular amendment. It is, of course, disturbing to hear 
adverse consequences of any drug or device, but we rely on the FDA to 
be the safety arbiter in these cases.
  The VA simply follows FDA's approval of drugs and devices. If anyone 
wants to go to the source on this, then that individual should work 
through the Agriculture Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the 
Food and Drug Administration. But I believe it is not the proper role 
for Congress to act as doctors in this case, substituting what appears 
to be anecdotal evidence for the considered judgment of teams of 
independent doctors and physicians. We also shouldn't influence the 
marketing of birth control drugs and devices by targeting one 
particular manufacturer.
  Again, I do understand my very good friend and colleague's sincere 
desire based on his conversations with constituents, but at the same 
time, I do think that we should let the medical experts determine the 
efficacy or the safety of a particular device in this case. So, again, 
I have to rise in opposition.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield to the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Bishop).
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for 
yielding.
  I join my chairman in opposing this amendment. Why has my colleague 
again started the war on women's rights? Why is the gentleman getting 
involved in the contraception choices of women veterans?
  Under VA Directive 1331, it is the policy of the VA to provide 
elective sterilization, for example, salpingectomy, tubal occlusion 
procedures, vasectomy, and surgery to reverse elective sterilization to 
eligible veterans as part of contraceptive and infertility services.
  I don't see my colleague from Pennsylvania calling for a ban of 
funding vasectomies or even a tubal ligation, getting tubes tied. Both 
of these are procedures currently allowed. If a woman has decided that 
she is seeking permanent birth control, why is Congress going to 
mandate that she undergo a surgical procedure?
  It is important to recognize that family planning is the most 
effective way to prevent abortion and unwanted pregnancies. Study after 
study show that when women have access to contraceptives, the incidence 
of abortion decreases. Family planning programs are an extremely 
effective way to support women in improving their own health and that 
of their families. Why would anyone insist on government interference 
in providing health care to women?
  This amendment also demonstrates the deeply troubling and partisan 
approach on issues affecting women and families.
  Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. FITZPATRICK. In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would say, with all due 
respect, this is about a dangerous medical device, and there are men 
and women on both sides of the aisle here in the House of 
Representatives that have called on the FDA to withdraw

[[Page H2841]]

the device from the market. There are other options.
  Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the time on the floor tonight.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick).
  The amendment was rejected.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Grayson

  Mr. GRAYSON. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk, Grayson 
No. 1.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __. None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to enter into a contract with any offeror or any of 
     its principals if the offeror certifies, as required by 
     Federal Acquisition Regulation, that the offeror or any of 
     its principals:
       (A) within a three-year period preceding this offer has 
     been convicted of or had a civil judgment rendered against it 
     for: commission of fraud or a criminal offense in connection 
     with obtaining, attempting to obtain, or performing a public 
     (Federal, State, or local) contract or subcontract; violation 
     of Federal or State antitrust statutes relating to the 
     submission of offers; or commission of embezzlement, theft, 
     forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, 
     making false statements, tax evasion, violating Federal 
     criminal tax laws, or receiving stolen property; or
       (B) are presently indicted for, or otherwise criminally or 
     civilly charged by a governmental entity with, commission of 
     any of the offenses enumerated above in subsection (A); or
       (C) within a three-year period preceding this offer, has 
     been notified of any delinquent Federal taxes in an amount 
     that exceeds $3,000 for which the liability remains 
     unsatisfied.

  Mr. GRAYSON (during the reading). Mr. Chair, I ask unanimous consent 
that the reading be waived.
  The CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from 
Florida?
  There was no objection.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from 
Florida and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida.
  Mr. GRAYSON. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is identical to other 
amendments that have been inserted by voice vote into every 
appropriations bill considered under an open rule during the 113th and 
114th Congresses.
  My amendment expands the list of parties with whom the Federal 
Government is prohibited from contracting due to serious misconduct on 
the part of the contractors. I hope that this amendment will remain 
noncontroversial and be passed unanimously again by the House.
  Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition, although I have no 
objection.
  The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is 
recognized for 5 minutes.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, again, I have no objection to the gentleman's 
amendment. He offered the same amendment last year, and it passed by 
voice vote. So I certainly urge adoption of the amendment.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. GRAYSON. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Florida (Mr. Grayson).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                   Amendment Offered by Mr. Boustany

  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __. (a) None of the funds made available by this Act 
     may be used to pay any bonus or monetary award under chapter 
     45 or 53 of title 5, United States Code, to an employee of 
     the Chief Business Office of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs who is responsible for processing emergency medical 
     care claims until the percentage of emergency medical care 
     claims processed within 30 days reaches 90 percent.
       (b) The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit 
     quarterly data to Congress on the following:
       (1) The total number of emergency medical claims and the 
     total number of billed charges for such claims.
       (2) The total number of emergency medical claims and billed 
     charges for such claims pending for more than 30 days.
       (3) The number of veterans with unpaid claims under 
     consideration in each Veterans Integrated Service Network.
       (4) The percent of clean claims processed within 30 days.

                              {time}  0040

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on the gentleman's 
amendment.
  The CHAIR. A point of order is reserved.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from Louisiana and a 
Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Chairman, our veterans have put their lives on the 
line to protect this country. The very least we can do is keep our 
promise to take care of them when they return home.
  But since the passage of the Veterans Access, Choice, and 
Accountability Act of 2014, the VA has demonstrated little progress in 
addressing the emergency medical claims processing backlog hurting our 
veterans.
  When I pressured the VA for statistics on this issue last year, the 
VA was processing only 14 percent of the claims within 30 days in my 
home region--14 percent. Since that time, the VA has conveniently 
loosened their timely processing goal from 30 days to 45 days, making 
it impossible to measure real progress.
  Despite this change in internal procedure, not a single VISN has 
reached a satisfactory timely processing rate. When these claims are 
not paid on time by the VA, the bill often gets passed onto the 
veteran--in many cases, threatening their personal credit rating. This 
is just unacceptable.
  While the VA wants to claim it is making progress by changing 
internal metrics to cook the numbers, it has taken constant pressure 
from my office, providers, and veterans groups just to get this agency 
to pay attention and try to do their job.
  American veterans should never have to worry about calling an 
ambulance or taking a trip to the emergency room and wondering whether 
this will hurt their finances. They should be focused on their health 
and their recovery.
  My amendment is very simple. It prevents the VA from granting bonuses 
to its emergency medical care claims processing staff until the 
percentage of claims processed within 30 days reaches 90 percent.
  Mr. Chairman, no business in my home State of Louisiana, or anywhere 
in this country, would ever think about rewarding its employees for 
such a poor performance. It has to change. We must demand the highest 
standard for America's veterans. I encourage my colleagues to hold the 
VA accountable and support this amendment.
  I reserve the balance of my time.


                             Point of Order

  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I insist on my point of order.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman will state his point of order.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I make a point of order against the amendment 
because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation 
in an appropriation bill and, accordingly, violates clause 2 of rule 
XXI.
  The rule states in pertinent part: ``An amendment to a general 
appropriation bill shall not be in order if changing existing law.''
  The amendment gives affirmative direction in effect.
  So I would ask for a ruling from the Chair.
  The CHAIR. Does the gentleman from Louisiana wish to be heard on the 
point of order?
  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Chairman, I respect the gentleman's call on this 
with regard to the rules. I would just hope that the members of the 
subcommittee, as well as my colleagues in the House, would work with us 
to solve this problem once and for all. This is unacceptable.
  Veterans are getting hurt day in and day out. Their credit ratings 
are suffering. This is one more egregious example----
  The CHAIR. The gentleman's remarks must be confined to the point of 
order.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. I am not going to defy the point of order. I understand 
the rule.
  The CHAIR. Does the gentleman wish to withdraw his amendment?

[[Page H2842]]

  

  Mr. BOUSTANY. No.
  The CHAIR. Or would the gentleman like a ruling on the point of 
order?
  Mr. BOUSTANY. I would like a ruling on the point of order.
  The CHAIR. The Chair is prepared to rule.
  The Chair finds this amendment includes language imparting direction; 
namely, by requiring the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit 
quarterly data to Congress.
  The amendment, therefore, constitutes legislation in violation of 
clause 2 of rule XXI.
  The point of order is sustained, and the amendment is not in order.


                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. BOUSTANY. Mr. Chairman, I have a parliamentary inquiry.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman will state his parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. Right here it says ``waives all points of order against 
consideration of the bill.''
  Can I seek a clarification on this?
  Clause 2(e) of rule XXI.
  The CHAIR. The point of order was sustained under clause 2.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. The base bill, right?
  The CHAIR. 2(c) of rule XXI.
  Mr. BOUSTANY. Thank you.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Gohmert

  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __. None of the funds made available in this act may 
     be used to establish, maintain, employ, or enter into any 
     contract or agreement with any organization, including a 
     political party, that endorsed, embraced, or encouraged any 
     form of slavery, nor to display the name of such organization 
     nor to have its name displayed in any facility in which or 
     for which funds made available in this act are used.

  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on 
the gentleman's amendment.
  The CHAIR. A point of order is reserved.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 736, the gentleman from Texas and a 
Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Chairman, it should be pretty straightforward. My 
friends on the other side of the aisle continue to push forward 
amendments that seem to want to leave the appearance that the 
Republican Party still wants to retain some fight that it has never 
had. The Republican Party opposed slavery. The Republican Party and 
everybody that I know of in this Chamber on this side of the aisle has 
never supported slavery, has never supported anything that wreaks of 
slavery.
  Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, all of those early leaders in this 
country, had it very right--it is an abomination. It kept God from 
blessing this country.
  I am surprised that anyone would wish to reserve a point of order to 
try to prevent this amendment from going forward. Anything, as my 
friends across the aisle have repeatedly pointed out, that reminds 
people of slavery is repugnant and is abhorrent, and I would think that 
that is something that we could all agree on.
  If it is an organization that supported slavery, then why would we 
want to give that organization any more credence and cause those who 
may have lived through the vestiges of the civil rights problems that 
lasted after slavery?
  It is time to put this to an end and let the dream of Dr. King 
finally come to fruition.
  I reserve the balance of my time.


                             Point of Order

  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I must insist on my point of 
order.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman will state his point of order.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I make a point of order against 
the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and 
constitutes legislation in an appropriation bill and, therefore, 
violates clause 2 of rule XXI.
  The rule states in pertinent part: ``An amendment to a general 
appropriation bill shall not be in order if changing existing law.''
  The amendment requires a new determination.
  I ask for a ruling from the Chair.
  The CHAIR. Does any other Member wish to speak to the point of order?

                              {time}  0050

  Mr. GOHMERT. I would address the point of order in that it really 
doesn't require any new act or law or activity. The thing should speak 
for itself unless my friend across the aisle has some concerns that 
some organization he wants to protect has supported slavery, and he is 
seeking to protect that. Otherwise, the law will speak for itself as 
does this amendment.
  The CHAIR. The Chair is prepared to rule.
  The Chair finds that this amendment includes language requiring a new 
determination of whether an organization had ``embraced'' any form of 
slavery.
  The amendment, therefore, constitutes legislation in violation of 
clause 2 of rule XXI.
  The point of order is sustained, and the amendment is not in order.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I appeal the ruling of the Chair, but given 
the hour, the fact that there aren't that many of us here on the floor 
at this time, that it would require a quorum and would require under 
the rules an immediate vote, what I will do is withdraw my amendment at 
this time. I am assured that we will still be taking up limitation 
amendments in the morning, and I can offer it at that time without 
dragging all of our friends out of their places of repose at this time.
  The CHAIR. The amendment has been ruled out of order. The appeal is 
withdrawn.
  Mr. DENT. Mr. Chair, I move that the Committee do now rise.
  The motion was agreed to.
  Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Mr. 
Perry) having assumed the chair, Mr. Collins of Georgia, Chair of the 
Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, reported that 
that Committee, having had under consideration the bill (H.R. 4974) 
making appropriations for military construction, the Department of 
Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending 
September 30, 2017, and for other purposes, had come to no resolution 
thereon.

                          ____________________