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tv   House Session  CSPAN  April 29, 2015 3:00pm-9:01pm EDT

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administration, we have failed our veterans miserably. and only in washington, d.c., when you see an increase of $3.6 billion for our v.a. to provide these critical needs for our men and women who have worn the uniform and put their lives on the line for the freedom and liberty that allows for us to stand in this room today, only in washington, d.c., will a $3.6 billion increase on behalf of our veterans be called a cut. you know why? madam chair? it's being called a cut because it's the only way to shift the blame away from this administration's failure to our veterans back to the republican-led house. . it's clearly politics that's driving us and i'm asking, madam chair, that the president seriously rethink his position. the administration needs to take responsibility and they are trying once again to point fingers at leadership in this
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house that is doing all that we can to ensure that our veterans get timely care and the best care that we can provide them. this is cynical and it's shameful and i believe, i believe that the american people can see straight through it. so i hope again, madam chair, that the president will reconsider this position. because there is no place, no place here in this bill for political gamesmanship when it comes to our military families and our veterans. thank you. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania reserves. the gentleman from georgia is recognized. >> at this time i yield three minutes to the gentlewoman from california, ms. lee, a member of the subcommittee on military construction and veterans' affairs. the chair: the gentlelady from california is recognized for three minutes. ms. lee: thank you very much, madam chairman. let me thank the ranking member for yielding, for his unwavering leadership for our
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veterans on this committee and for your friendship. thank you very much. let me also thank chairman dent, in addition to ranking member bishop really for working very hard in a bipartisan way on a variety of issues facing our veterans, including empowering our vets in their transition back to civilian life and ensuring adequate and accessible access to care. as the daughter of a veteran, i understand the enormous sacrifices that our service members and their families make to serve our nation. so this subcommittee is extremely important. i want to thank the ranking member and chair for working with me and my colleagues on the subcommittee to include important report language on the backlog at the oakland v.a. regional office, which is one, of course of the worst in the nation. i want to thank congresswoman brown for her leadership on the committee, in shedding some light also on what is taking place at the oakland v.a.
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regional office. this language will ensure that the oakland office not only has to provide congress with accurate information on what has happened with these backlog claims, but it will require the veterans' benefit administration to outline the less obs learned and what -- lessons learned and what the new protocols are to make sure that no veteran faces delays in a accessing care. insufficient allocations in this bill leave much work to be done. the 2016 milcon v.a. appropriations bill includes a $582 million cut from the major construction account. that's half of the president's request of $1.1 billion. simply put, the level of funds allocated in this bill is totally insufficient and, yes, it undermines the responsibility we have to provide our veterans with the best and most innovative care. and as a result the construction of vital medical facilities that will serve our veterans will be delayed. this includes the initial phase of construction for the
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state-of-the-art almeida point outpatient clinic in my own congressional district which serves thousands of veterans in the northern california area. may i have an additional minute? mr. bishop: i yield the gentlelady an additional minute. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. lee: thank you very much. i just want to thank the ranking member and the chair for continuing to work with me to ensure that the limitation language in the report with regard to major construction funds for the v.a. does not preclude clinics. like for example, the almeida point outpatient clinic. addressing the limitation language and restoring funding to the president's request level for major construction is really vital to ensuring that our nation keeps the promise that we've made to our brave veterans to give them access to the best care. mr. chairman, we really can't afford that these cuts -- what these cuts will do with our veterans. we can't afford to allow this dangerous and harmful impact of sequestration now to be locked
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in by these allocations before us today. these dismal numbers they directly affect our veterans' access to care, that they need and that they have earned. so i hope that as this process moves forward, these insufficient allocations are resolved. thank you and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from georgia reserves. and the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. >> thank you, madam speaker. i move to strike the last word. the chair: without objection, the gentleman is recognized. >> thank you. i yield at this time to my colleague from california, congressman denham. mr. denham: thank you. every member of this body recognizes the special obligation this house has to take care of our veterans. we also have an obligation to ensure that the funds we entrust to the department of veterans affairs are actually properly spent. the shocking waste of funds at the aurora hospital in denver
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has rightly earned the outrage of both this body and the american public. the $930 million in cost overruns in denver will have to be paid for by taking funds that could otherwise have accelerated critical access projects across the country or assisted the department as it attempts to tackle the backlogs and claims that the veterans -- at the veterans' benefits administration. i'm particularly concerned that the complete failure of project management of the denver hospital has negatively impacted veterans in my district. they've already suffered from a lack of access of care. specifically, i'm seeking clarity on what the committee intends with the major construction funding appropriated under this bill. the committee report includes language requiring the funding provided for major construction to be used for new hospital construction and size mick corrections -- seismic corrections. one of the projects included in this request is to deliver a closure project. this project would utilize f.y.
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2016 funding to provide for the complete construction of a new medical facility at french camp in the central valley. the facility would provide direct medical care to more than 87,000 veterans in its service area and dramatically reduce the nearly six-hour commute faced by veterans in my district for even routine health care. mr. chairman this project, a project that was authorized more than a decade ago by this congress, does it meet the crytaryia set for -- meet the criteria? i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from pennsylvania reserves and the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. >> thank you, madam speaker. i thank the gentleman for this opportunity, the gentleman from california, for this opportunity to clarify the meaning of our report language. i do share your concern about the mismanagement of construction projects by the v.a.. it is delaying vital projects
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such as liver more. in this report we simply make clear the priority for funding hospital construction and size mick -- seismic corrections. mr. dent: within the funds provided in the bill, unallocated major construction funding remains available and the v.a. has the ability to allocate those funds towards french camp, as well as other projects in the budget request. the report instructs the v.a. to make that determination and provide a list of projects to this committee. i have heard similar concerns from other members, including the gentlelady ms. lee, who just spoke a few minutes ago, who had projected included in this request such as almeida clinic -- and another clinic in st. louis which the administration could also choose to fund. i appreciate these concerns and the opportunity to provide some clarity. i hope that's helpful. nothing precludes funding. i yield back.
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the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania reserves. mr. dent: excuse me, i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from georgia is recognized. mr. bishop: i yield two minutes to the gentlewoman from florida, ms. brown who is the ranking member of the house veterans' affairs committee. a strong supporter of our veterans. the chair: the gentlewoman from florida is recognized for two minutes. ms. brown: thank you, mr. speaker and members of the house. i rise in strong opposition in the military construction and veterans affairs appropriation bill. after taking steps forward with the new choice act program, this republican budget takes two steps back with its cuts to veterans' health care. just another example of republicans talking the talk but not walking the walk. but don't take my word for it. if you ask the veterans' service organizations who represent the interests of
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veterans, every one of them is opposing this bill. the national commanders of the veterans of foreign wars said the following about the republicans' veterans bill. the v.a. cannot fulfill its mission without proper funding. but the house, for whatever reason, now want to ration care eliminate infrastructure projects and stop improving upon the programs and services that the v.a. was created to provide. this is a bad bill for veterans and anyone that votes for it should really take a second look. let me just say one other thing. i often say if you're not in the room, you're on the menu. and i am sure that veterans never thought that the republicans would put them on the menu. i yield back the balance of my
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time. the chair: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from georgia reserves. and the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: i just wanted to respond to the gentlelady from florida's comments. a lot of people have been saying that we've cut spending in this bill. the president requested 8% increase. we provided for 6% increase. because the president makes a request does not mean that congress has to behave like potted plants and simply exceed every item that the president has asked for. that's not our role as members of congress. our job is to provide some real serious oversight over a department that has failed in many respects. members on both sides of the aisle agree with that, given the problems of denver or phoenix, philadelphia, elsewhere, oak left-hand side. we can -- i can go through a long list. some of the oversight mechanisms in this bill, i should mention, they include things like requiring a spending plan before construction dollars can be spent. we did that because of what's happened all across the
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country. we prohibit increases in the scope of construction projects, we prohibit transfer of funds between construction projects. cut cutting funding for poorly performing offices require detailed quarterly reports about disability compensation complames. we tighten restrictions on reprogramming and rescinded $415 million from v.a. pay accounts. that's pay in bonuses. ms. brown: will the gentleman yield? mr. dent: not yet. limiting amount of money available for pay increases and bonuses. should we reward failure at the v.a.? i mean, there are management problems at the v.a. it's not simply about money. we all know this. and given what's -- you open up a newspaper every day. just two weeks ago in the city of philadelphia, at the regional office there, a scathing inspector general's report about the failures. to simply reward that would be unconscionable on our part. i'd be happy to yield. ms. brown: my question is, will
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you admit that this budget will deny 70,000 veterans from health care? dent debit reclay -- mr. dent: reclaiming my time. i'll tell that you this budget more than adequately meets the needs of our service members and veterans and their families. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania reserves. and the gentleman from georgia is recognized. mr. bishop: we have no further speakers. at this time we yield back our time. the chair: the gentleman from georgia yields back the balance of his time. and the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: thank you, madam speaker. again, just urging all members to support this important legislation. it's the right thing to do. we have no further speakers at it time and at this time again i would ask for members to support the legislation and i yield back. thank you. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time.
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all time for general debate has expired. pursuant to the rule, the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. during consideration of the bill for amendment, each amendment shall be considered for 10 minutes, equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent and shall not be subject to amendment. 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: be it enacted that the following sums are appropriated for military
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construction. the department of veterans affairs and related agencies for 2016 namely, title 1, department of defense, military construction, army, $663,245000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition. mr. bishop: i rise to offer an amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. bishop of georgia, after the dollar amount insert reduced by $1, page 27, line 9 after the dollar amount insert -- mr. bishop: i move we dispense with the reading. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i reserve a point of order the chair: the point of order is
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reserved. without objection. without objection, the reading is dispensed with. pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from georgia and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia. mr. bishop: i thank you madam chair. the amendment i'm offering should be supported by every member of this house. it will restore the military construction and veterans affairs administration funding bill to the full amount requested by the administration and to the full amount deemed necessary by the affected agencies. last night the veterans of foreign wars, one of the largest veterans service organizations in the united states, put out a letter calling this year's bill quote, bad for veterans, end of quote. they oppose the bill. the independent budget group which consists of the a.m.e disabled
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american veterans and paralyzed veterans of america and veterans of foreign wars expressed serious concerns with this bill. the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america expressed their serious concerns with the bill. they call on congress to provide the entire $1.5 billion that was cut from the budget request from the v.a. which this house should do immediately. without this necessary funding much needed investments in veterans' health care would be shortchanged and important services win compromised. i understand that house rules make it difficult to add money to a spending bill's allocation, but i sincerely hope that we don't have to have that as an excuse. we should be doing the right thing on behalf of our nation's veterans. we have the power to do it. we need to pass the law to change the law which limits us
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and puts this cap on what we can do to take care of our veterans and military construction. this amendment addresses that. and i urge all of my colleagues to vote yes and to demonstrate to our veterans' community that the message has been received. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania secretary recognition? mr. dent: i make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to omit portions of the bill that have not been read. it states, it is not in order to strike or otherwise portions of a bill not yet read for amendment. i ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: does any member wish to be heard on the point of order? the gentlelady from new york is recognized to be heard. mrs. lowey: i rise in strong support of the amendment. the bill falls short of
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providing the resources that the president requested and veterans earn. national commander of the veterans of foreign wars has demanded that the house amend the bill to appropriate a funding level that fully funds the v.a., end quote. mr. bishop's amendment does just that. the v.f.w. went on to say the bill underfunds medical care information technology accounts. the v.a. cannot fulfill its mission without proper funding but the house now wants to ration care. the chair: the gentlelady must confine her remarks to the point in order in question. does the gentlelady wish to be heard on the point of order? mrs. lowey: that the v.f.w. strongly supports the amendment for the reasons that i suggested. the chair: the chair is prepared to rule. to be considered en bloc pursuant to clause 2-f of rule 21, an amendment must propose to
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transfer of appropriations among objects in the bill. because the amendment offered by the gentleman from georgia proposes also another kind of change in the bill namely striking sections from the bill, it may not avail itself of clause 2-f to address portions of the bill not yet read. the point of order is sustained. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. bishop: i appeal the ruling of the chair. the chair: the question is shall the ruling stand as the judgment of the committee? those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the decision of the chair stand as the judgment of the committee. mr. bishop: move for a recorded vote. the chair: those in favor say aye. in taking a recorded vote will rise. a sufficient number having arisen, a recorded vote is offered. members will record their votes by electronic device. this is a 15-minute vote.
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[captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.]
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the chair: the yeas are 237, the noes are 180. the decision of the chair stands as the judgment of the committee. will members take their conversations off the floor. the clerk will read. the chair: page 3, line 3, military construction, navy and marine corps $1 billion to
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remain available until september 30 2020. military construction air force, $1,000 237555,to remain available until september 30, 2020. military construction dens-wide including transfer of funds $1 billion. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by the gentlelady from new york. insert after the dollar amount reduced by $30 million increased by $30 million and insert after the dollar amount increased by $30 million. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentlelady
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from new york and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from new york. ms stefanik: i would like to thank the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. dent and his staff for allowing this important discussion of an east coast missile defense site and the gentleman from ohio, mr. turner for his continued efforts and support. madam chair, my amendment would provide for the planning, design and construction of an additional missile defense site. it shield our nation from hostile incoming warheads and with the escalation of threats from north korea and iran the united states must be ready, not just to retaliate but to stop an attack. we must be able to defend our nation and shoot it down. north korea has a nuclear weapons capability and a real concern given their erratic behavior. iran has demonstrated key technologies for icbm
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development. this is about maintaining our nation's readiness and it provides increased -- >> the house is not in order. the chair: will the gentlelady suspend. the house is not in order. the gentlelady is recognized. ms stefanik: this is about maintaining our nation's readiness and east coast mifled site has more decision time and increased relie built and different angle of intercept. a third site would give a general increased opportunity to engage in threats from iran or north korea. east coast missile defense site wouldinst those very real threats. this amendment provides for the security and protection that our nation needs and now, i would like toll yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from ohio mr. turner. the chair: the gentleman is
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recognized mr. turner: i want to thank the congresswoman and chairman dent for their support for this amendment. providing funding for the planning, design and construction for an additional missile defense site capable of protecting the homeland. as the congresswoman is very well aware, we possess only two sites both located on the west coast, limiting our ability to target and intercept incoming icbm's either that are targeting the east coast or originating from the east. dating back to 2007 the united states north command in charge of defending the homeland recommended the construction of the east coast site. under president obama's plan for missile defense, he canceled president bush's third site that was to be located in poland and provide icbm coverage for the east coast united states. and canceled phase four of his approach that would have
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similarly provided that coverage. the only opportunity we have left with those two options gone is to look to the east coast site. two presidents and three secretaries of defense have recognized the advantages in order to provide further protection against long-range ballistic missile threats. as china, russia north korea push for more launch vehicles, the construction of a site would improve the ability of our military to intercept incoming threats to engage and dwet those threats. i urge support. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentlelady is recognized. >> would the gentlelady yield? the chair: the gentlelady yields to the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. dent: i rise in support of the gentlelady's amendment with the advances in launch capabilities we should explore protecting the east coast from our adversaries as the
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congresswoman and congressman and i support the amendment and yield back. ms stefanik: i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. any member claim time in opposition? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlelady from new york. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the eyes have it and the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlelady from california seek recognition? >> i rise to strike the last word. the chair: are you the designee of the ranking member? ms. lee: yes. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. lee: i'm seeking clarity from chairman dent on what the committee intends with the major construction funding in this bill. included in the committee report is language that the funding provided for major construction be used for hospital construction and corrections.
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one of the projects in the request is theala immediatea clinic, this would provide direct medical care to veterans in my district. does the project meet the criteria for funding set by the committee as set in the report? mr. dent: it does. ms. lee: reclaiming my time i want to thank the gentleman for this clarification. and i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 6, line 5, military construction, army national guard $167,437,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. military construction air national guard $138,337,000 to remain available until september
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030, 20. $104,295,000 to remain available until september 30 2020. navy reserve $36 million to remain available until september 30 2020. military construction, air for reserves $65,21,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. north atlantic treaty organization security investment program $150 million. family housing construction, army, $99,695,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. family housing operation and maintenance, army, $393,311,000. family housing construction,
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navy and marine corps $16 ,541,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. family housing operation and maintenance navy and marine corps $353,336,000. family housing construction air force $160,498,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. family housing operation and maintenance air force $331,232,000. family housing operation and maintenance defens $58,668,000. of defense base closure account $251,334,000. administrative provisions, section 101, none of the funds shall be expended for payments
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for construction where costs exceed $25000. section 102 funds shall be available for hire of passenger motor vehicles. section 103, funds may be used for the federal highway administration for construction of access roads when projects authorized are certified as important to the national defense. section 104 none of the funds may be used to begin construction of new bases for which been made. section 105 none of the funds shall be u of land in excess of 1 100% of the value as determined by the army corps of engineers. section 106 none of the funds shall be used to acquire land. section 107, none of the funds for minor construction may be used to transfer any activity from one base to another without notification to the committees.
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section 108 none of the funds may be used for the procurement of steel for which american steel producers have been denied the opportunity to compete for steel procurement. section 109 none of the funds for military construction may be used to pay real property taxes in any foreign nation. section 110, none of the funds may be used to initiate a new installation overseas without prior notification to the committees. section 111 none of the funds may be obligated for architect scracts to exceed $500,000 for projects in japan. section 112, none of the funds for military construction may be used to award any scract to exceed $1 million to a foreign contractor. section 113, the secretary shall inform the committees of any proposed military exercise if amounts expended are anticipated
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to ex seed $100,000. section 114, funds for construction shall be available for each such military department by the authorization enacted. section 115, for projects deemed completed with funds otherwise expired expired or lapsed funds may be used. section 116 funds for construction of military projects may be obligated before the end of the fourth fiscal year after the year for which funds were made available. section 117 including transfer of funds subject prior notification such amounts as may be determined may be transferred to the department of defense family housing improvement fund from amounts appropriated for construction and family housing accounts. section 118 including transfer of funds, amounts may be
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transferred from the department of defense base closure account to pay for expenses associated with the homeowners' assistance program. section 119 funds made available for operation and maintenance of family housing for repair and maintenance of all family housing units. section 120 amounts in the island account shall be available until expended. section 121 including transfer of funds, during the five-year period after appropriations for military construction have expired unobligated balances may be into fluctuation construction defense. section 122 except as provided in subsection b, none of the funds may be used by the secretary to relocate a unit in the army that performs a testing mission. section 123 amounts may be
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transferred in accordance with the reprogramming guidelines for military construction and family housing construction. section 124, none of the funds may be object -- may be obligated for planning projects at arlington national cemetery. section 125, recision of funds, $96 million. section 126, recision of funds $52600,000. . section 128, rescission of funds $103,918,000. section 129 the term congressional defense committees means the committees on armed services of the house and senate. section 130, none of the funds may be used to carry out the closure of lodges air force
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base azors. section 131, $30 million for construction of access roads. title 2, department of veterans affairs, veterans' benefits administration, compensation and pensions, including transfer of funds $166,271,436,000. readjustment benefits. $16,743,904,000. veterans' insurance and indemnities, $169,080,000. veterans' housing benefit program fund for direct and guaranteed loans, such sums as may be necessary. for administrative expenses $164,558,000.
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vocational rehabilitation loans program account for direct loans $31000. for administrative expenses $367,000. native american veteran housing loan program account $1, 134,000. veterans' health administration medical services, $51 673,000,000. the chair: does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition?
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does the gentleman from arizona offer the amendment? the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona. page 27, line 9, after the dollar amount insert increase by $2,031,000. page 30, line 15, after the first dollar amount insert reduce by $2,031,000. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> i reserve a point of order on the gentleman's amendment. the chair: the order is reserved. pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from arizona and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona for five minutes.
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mr. gosar: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise to offer an amendment which seeks to provide additional resources for the mental health services for our nation's veterans. by way of background, the v.a.'s budget justification for f.y. 2016 requests an increase of $3,231,000 over the enacted fiscal year 2015 levels for its office of congressional and legislative affairs. but on the very next page of that document v.a. only mentions -- mentions that it needs, quote $1.2 million to address increased congressional and legislative work load. so my amendment simply transfers the remaining $2,031,000 unaccounted for from this request and prioritizes it to address the ongoing problems our veterans face from returning from combat. traumatic brain injuries and posttraumatic stress disorder have been consistently contributing to behavioral issues with our veterans. and all too often these kwon
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going -- ongoing mental health issues result in suicide with an average of 1 to 20 veteran suicides per day more resources are desperately needed. the congressional budgetary office says the amendment would have no impact on the budget authority or outlays. the v.a. does not need more money to hire more paper pushers, to send letters to capitol hill, to attempt to explain its inappropriate actions. instead, let's appropriate the money to those whom the v.a. created to serve and help improve the mental health of our nation's heroes. i ask my colleagues to support this commonsense amendment. i thank chairman dent, ranking member bishop for their time, and with that i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from arizona yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from pennsylvania is -- for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: on the point of order. mr. chairman -- the chair: does the gentleman wish to state the order? mr. dent: mr. chairman the amendment proposes to amend portions of the bill not yet read. the amendment in a mayweather not be considered en bloc
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because the amendment propose tennis crease the level of outlays in the bill. so i ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: any member wish to be heard on the point of order? to be considered en bloc pursuant to clause 2-f of rule 21, an amendment must not propose to increase the levels of budget authority or outlays in the bill because the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona proposes a net increase in the level of outlays in the bill as argued by the chairman of the subcommittee on appropriations that may not avail itself of clause 2 hf. the point of order is sustained, the amendment is not in order.
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the clerk will read. the clerk: page 28, line 6 medical support and compliance $6,524,000,000. medical facilities $5, 774,000,000, shall remain available until september 30 2017. medical -- mr. chairman. the clerk: shall remain available until september 30 2017. >> mr. chairman. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. department dent exactly two weeks ago -- mr. dent: exactly two weeks ago the v.a. office of the inspector general released its report on the gross mismanagement and claims manipulation that has long corrupted the philadelphia v.a. office. the issues revealed through that report republican -- these issues are unacceptable for our nation's veterans and i've
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specialy -- personally seen the consequences firsthand. this bill takes a number of steps to address the issues raised by the inspector general and help to ensure that they will not be repeated at any v.a. facility. i remain steadfast in my work to bring accountability and reform to the v.a. at this time i yield two minutes to my colleague from pennsylvania, mr. meehan. the chair: the gentleman may yield but not in blocks of time. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. meehan: i want to thank the gentleman and i want to thank him for his hard work on this bill. the gentleman from pennsylvania's put together a fiscally responsible piece of legislation that will support the u.s. military, the military families and the veterans who have served our country. as you've heard and in the discussions that have taken place with other colleagues, particularly those from pennsylvania, when red tape and mismanagement stand between a veteran and his or her care we all have a responsibility to blow the whistle and to call
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for appropriate reforms. the inspector general for veterans affairs released a report two years -- two weeks ago on the philadelphia veterans affairs regional office, as my colleague identified. and the report was even more scathing than we were led to believe it would be. it confirms our worst fears, that the philadelphia v.a. regional office is rife with systematic mismanagement. poor morale, deliberate manipulation of data and individuals more focused on misleading the nation than serving our veterans. i'd like to thank chairman miller and the veterans' affairs committee for convening a meeting on these reports to explore these matters in greater detail. out of those hearings we learned that the v.a. isn't planning on holding anyone responsible until after the completion of yet another report. this may be the nature of the process, but it's deeply troubling. what the v.a. needs isn't an endless loop of bureaucratic reviews an inquiries, it's
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competent management that is needed and management that will hold the employees and the other management accountable. while we wait for the next report with this bill, congress has an opportunity to take reform action with v.a. h.r. 229 which will give v.a. employees the tools they need to expedite the veterans ear benefits and care -- veterans' benefits and care process. one of the findings that struck me was that the average response time for some of the 31,000 inquiries was 312 days. according to policy, that response should have been happening within five days. i asked the director of the v.b.a., what do you tell the veterans? he had no answer. that response time is completely unacceptable. the funding in this bill will provide additional staff to expedite the processing of these claims and get those veterans the benefits they deserve. again, i want to thank the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. dent, for his hard work on this bill. i look forward to continue working with him as well as
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other colleagues to bring about this important reforms that are needed at the philadelphia benefits office. i yield back. mr. dent: i thank the gentleman from pennsylvania for his determination to right this situation. at this time i yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from chester county, mr. costello. mr. costello: mr. chairman, i rise today regarding congressman dent's fiscally responsible appropriations legislation and the positive impact it will have on the philadelphia -- the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. does the gentleman from pennsylvania move to strike the last word? you're recognized for five minutes. >> at this time i yield my time to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. costello, who has been keeply deserved -- who has been deeply concerned about these issues. mr. costello: i rise today to talk about the positive impact it will have on the regional olves.
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the philadelphia v.a. has been plagued with a dysfunctional and toxic work management. mr. chairman, it's our duty to right these wrong decision to and ensure that the best care -- decision and to ensure that the best care is provided to our veterans. this is a great start and gives congress the opportunity to act on behalf of our veterans. so let's talk about this appropriations bill and the specifics of it. it fully funds the veterans' benefits management system which will result in cutting the average processing time of a veterans' filed claim -- of a veteran's filed claim, it fully funds the veterans' benefit administration with an additional $163 million, to allow for more staffing for the processing of appeal claims. we've already heard about the claims' backlog this seeks to address that. it allocates funding for i.t., to. it allocates full funding for scanning and centralized mail. this bill establishes strike force response teams to bring in experienced managers to
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implement corrective actions at struggling and low-performing v.a. facilities like the philadelphia v.a. mr. chairman, it's time for change at the philadelphia v.a. -- varo and i'm committed to ensuring that there is a course correction there and that we effectively and expeditiously resolving the problems. i encourage my colleagues to do the same and support this bill. i also want to particularly thank congressman dent for his hard work on this bill. i look forward to continuing to work with you and your perspective committees to provide the best for our veterans in the commonwealth and across the nation. i yield back the balance of my time. mr. dent: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania yields back. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 29, line 18, national cemetery administration $266,220,000. departmental administration, general administration including transfer of funds
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$336659,000. the chair: the clerk will suspend. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the gentleman will please send his amendment forward. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. mcnerney of california, page 30, line 15, after the first dollar amount insert reduced by $15,068,000. page 31, line 9 after the dallas amount insert reduced by $27 237,000. page 32, line nine insert reduced by $319 -- after the
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first dollar amount insert increased by $177,300,000. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from california and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. mcnerney: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to chang chairman bishop for the hard work. i know both of you had to make difficult decisions to get the current -- under the current financial constraints. the president's budget included $1.4 billion in funding for v.a. major construction projects. unfortunately this bill only includes $561 million, which is $582 million less than requested this severely impacts access to care for veterans. my amendment increases the v.a. major construction by $177
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million though i'd still prefer to restore full funding for major construction with the president's fiscal year 2016 budget request. the amendment is offset by reductions to the v.a. administration's i.t. account, bringing them in line with the fiscal year 2015 enacted levels. in addition, the general operating expenses account would be reduced by $27 million. however mitigating circumstance amendment will ensure that more v.a. construction projects are funded including the outpatient clinic and national cemetery in alameda california and a 187,000 square feet community based outpatient clinic in california. without this funding more than 87,000 veterans in and around my district will have to continue to wait for the quality medical care that they've earned. for example, i recently drove with a veteran to the nearest
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v.a. medical center. his appointment was only 30 minutes. but including travel it took us eight hours. it took all day. this cannot continue. the v.a. buildings are an average of 60 years old. since 2004, use of department facilities has risen 80% to 120% while the condition of these facilities detieroror ates over the same period of time. there are more than 300,000 infrastructure gaps that will cost betweenbhl to $66 billion to close, including $10 million in activation costs. moreover, the veterans health administration has over 21 major construction projects, dating to 2007, that have only partially funded the complete existing projects and to close future gaps, the v.a. will need to invest at least $23 billion over the next 10 years.
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at current requested funding levels, it will take more than 6 years to complete the 10-year capital investment plan of the department. our brave men and women deserve access to the best health care system our nation has to offer and that's the v.a. health care system. not adequately funding our future construction projects is a disservice to them. i share the outrage at the boondoggle in aurora, colorado. this is an outrage and embarrassment to the v.a. while we're all frustrated with the -- with how the process ha gone, further funding reductions does not help build buildings on schedule, fails to provide additional oversite of -- over jithe of construction projects and does nothing to reform v.a. construction processes. i'm pleased both the chairman and ranking member recognize the
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need to address this issue and have included important language to that effect. but there's still more work to be done and that's something we plan to address in the veterans affairs committee. in addition, the v.a. announced last week that it's working with the army corps of engineers to identify projects in which the corps will serve as construction agent. the v.a. and corps are still working on the exact projects and criteria, but this is a step in the right direction. mr. chairman i understand the frustration really but cutting funding right now to these projects doesn't solve the problem. it's hurting our veterans. we need to think outside of that box. let's focus on improving our construction process and not punishing the veterans across the country because of what occurred in denver. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek
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recognition? >> i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes mr. dent: i know the gentleman and others are disappointed we didn't provide the full request for construction but we felt it was more important to provide necessary health services for veterans and add to the poorly managed -- than add to the poorly managed major construction account this amendment i believe proves the wisdom of our choice. to provide enough money for the french camp project mr. mcnerney is interested in, we would have to dwut the v.a.i.t. -- the v.a. i.t. program which is already below the request. i don't believe many members would be willing to accept the cuts that need to be made, to the electronic medical records system or the paperless claims disability processing system. we can't afford to sacrifice the
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goofed many vet troons accommodate a local or parochial project construction request. i understand the gentleman's concern and frustration but i do believe that this request would do a lot of damage to the i.t. program and affect a lot of things that all of us are deeply concerned about in terms of end grailted health record, e.m.r. and other disability issues. with that, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from california. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. the amendment is not agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the gentleman specify which amendment. >> 055. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona, page 30, line 15, after the first dollar
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amount, insert reduced by $8 million, increase by $8 million. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from arizona and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona. mr. go sar: i rise to offer an amendment -- mr. gosar: i rise to offer an amendment that would raise money to hire and train personnel for the purposes of reducing the veterans disability claims backlog. by way of background, the v.a.'s budget justification for fiscal year 2016 requests an increase of $12 million for its office of general council -- general counsel but on the very next page it says it needs $4 million to, quote, address increases in the legal work load. the v.a. budget justification also says that the v.a.'s goal is to have an adecisional 45 full-time equivalent lawyers for its office of general counsel which would take the total number of attorneys up to 757.
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according to the committee report, for the last five years the committee has fully funded the president's budget request for additional full-time equivalents yet the claim backlogs remain. my amendment seeks to reprogram money within the veterans benefit administration from the office of general counsel and put it toward the hiring and training of personnel who will work to reduce the v.a. claims backlog. the congressional budget office says this amendment has no score. i think most of us can agree that the appropriations would be better spent on the v.a. claims backlog reduction rather than hiring more lawyers. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment and i yield. >> i agree with mr. gosar that eliminating the backlog should be the priority. mr. dent: it provides the request for claims processes activities and i support your amendment. mr. gosar: i thank the gentleman, i yield back.
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the chair: the gentleman yields back. does any member rise in opposition? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from nevada seek recognition? mr. titus: i rise to offer an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. titus of nevada, page 30, line 15, after the first dollar amount insert reduce by $500,000. increase by $500,000. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 2 23 the gentlewoman from nevada and a member opposed each will control five minutes nesm chair recognizes the gentlewoman from nevada. ms. titus: thank you, mr. chairman. i yield myself such time as i i might consume. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized. ms. titus: i rise in support of my amount which is designed to focus on a critical issue, the treatment of female veterans this epopulation of women
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veterans is rapidly growing. today women constitute 20% of new recruits, 14.5% of the active duty component and 18% of the reserve component. almost 280,000 women have served post-9/11 in afghanistan and iraq while the number of male veterans is expected to decline by 2020, the number of women veterans is expected to grow dramatically to 11% of the veteran population. from health care to child care, the needs of women veterans are different from those of their male counterparts. unfortunately, the v.a. has face challenges in meeting these needs. there are far too few ob/gyns and a dearth of women's health care clinics. for clin -- where clinics do exist, many lack sufficient privacy protections for the patient. the v.a. has also strug told address shortages in mental health child care and housing services for female veterans. too many women who served either
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do not identify themselves as veterans or they lack a sufficient information about the benefits and services that the v.a. provides. fortunately, the v.a. has started to put an increased focus on this population. the v.a. center for women veterans is charged with monitoring and coordinating v.a.'s administration of health care benefit services and programs for women veterans as well as with raising awareness within the department for their special needs. in 2012, the women veterans task force published a report outlining strategies to meet the needs of our female veterans. the report highlighted barriers to providing services to women veterans including a lack of data collection and analysis. without knowing how to best serve and meet expectations of female veterans, the v.a. will never be able to give these heros the care and support that they earned and deserve. my amendment is designed simply to encourage the v.a. to fill
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the two unfunded data collection and analysis positions in the center for women veterans to ensure that the v.a. is able to identify and fulfill the needs of our nation's female heroes. i thank the chairman and the ranking member for working with me on this amendment and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from georgia is recognized for five minutes. >> i thank you for allowing me to respond. i support the gentlewoman's efforts to highlight the importance of women's health. mr. johnson: the -- >> the v.a. women's cent has been underfunded for several years. the most recent working group recommends they fill two statistician positions that have not been filled. without these positions it's challenging for the v.a. to get good data about female veterans. mr. programs are shaped using faulty assumptions. these positions are very
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important to the v.a. when it comes to providing care for our female veterans. i support these efforts and urge all members to support it and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. for what purpose does the gentleman seek recognition? >> i'd like to claim time in opposition but i'm not opposed to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. dent: i commend the gentlelady for her work, i know your work on the authorizing committee is very important to you. since women comprise nearly 15% of active duty military forces, v.a. must improve its services and infrastructure to accommodate gender specific needs so i strongly support the gentlelady's amendment and yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentlewoman from nevada is recognized. ms. titus: thank you, mr. chairman. i just want to close by asking my other colleagues to support this amendment so we can send a strong message to our female veterans that the u.s. congress
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is committed to ensuring that the v.a. is meeting their unique needs. it's critical that the v.a. is able to accurately look forward to the future and shape their programs so it is welcoming and supporting of all our veterans. i thank you for your support and i yield back. the chair: the gentlewoman yields back the balance of her time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from nevada. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the gentleman will specify which amendment. mr. gosar: 052. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona, page 30, line 15, after the first dollar amount insert reduced by $2 million. page 30 line 22, after the dollar amount insert increased by $2 million. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman
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from arizona and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona. mr. gosar: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise to offer a straightforward amendment that would strengthen the ability of the board of veterans appeals to reduce its backlog. i applaud the committee for taking on the difficult task of prioritizing limited resources for our veterans. the committee rightfully recommends the budget request level for the board of veterans appeals but i will note that one of the primary concerns i hear from my case work staff and directly from the veterans is the need for increased resources to the board of veterans appeals. . appeals received are projected to increase from $49 -- from 49,611 in 2011 to 81,640 cases in 2016. that's a 65% increase in just four short years. with our troops returning from iraq and afghanistan it is no wonder why there is such a
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significant spike in the claims and appeals. i simply want to heed the call of veterans in my district and across the country and ensure that the board of appeals has the resources necessary to address the seemingly endless backlog. c.b.o. says this amendment would have no impact on budgetary authority or outlays. i encourage my colleagues to support this amendment. i thank the chairman and the ranking member for their diligent efforts. i would yield to the gentleman. mr. dent: i agree with the gentleman from arizona's emphasis on maximizing funding for the board of veterans appeals. the board will be facing enormous increase in case load as the backlog of initial disability claims is cleared and veterans appeal those decisions, we have provided $9 million or 8.6% increase in the board's funneling as well as additional technology funds. so i support the gentleman's amendment. mr. gosar: i thank the gentleman and the ranking member and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from arizona yields back the balance
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of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlewoman seek amendment? >> i have an amendment at the desk and i offer that amendment at the this time. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. cinema of arizona. page 30, line 15, after the first dollar amount, insert reduced by $50,000. increased by $50,000. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentlewoman from arizona and maybe opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from arizona. sinn sinn thank you, mr. chairman -- ms. sinema: thank you, mr. chairman. the sinema amendment is a commonsense fix that helps improve the trans-- the transparency of the v.a. i thank the chairman for the work he's doing. the underlying bill requires quarterly reports on the financial status of the veterans health administration.
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my amendment requires the v.a. to include as part of these quarterly payments any outstanding payments owed to contracted entities older than 60 days and a justification for the delay in payment. over the last year, we have seen that the v.a. is unable to provide the timely high-quality care our veterans deserve on their own. by leveraging community providers and creating a seamless relationship between v.a. care providers and external non-v.a. care providers, we can ensure veterans receive the timely access they deserve. that's what the choice act is trying to create. that's what the secretary homes -- hopes to build through the my v.a. initiative. unfortunately the v.a. continues to struggle with paying its bills in a timely way. in my district, i've heard from large hospitals, small businesses alike who don't receive prompt payments from the v.a. a small business in my district interim health care provides home care, skilled medical care and staffing services for the v.a. despite efforts by the phoenix v.a. hospital, the larger v.a. system has failed to pay interim health care and others in a timely way.
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this threatens small businesses and the care that they provide to arizona veterans. ultimately this undermines the seamless care we are attempting to provide to veterans. understanding why the v.a. struggles to provide timely payments to contracted service providers would help the v.a. address this issue and improve the quality of services for our veterans. additionally, we have learned that in 2014 over 55% of all veterans calling a national hotline for care never got through to a representative. thus far in 2015, that number has rizzen to 59% -- risen to 59%. this would also allow the v.a. to provide a report on how many individuals who reach the call center are dropped and how many get the care they receive. the sinema amendment, mr. chair and others, will improve oversight and accountability to the v.a. and a step toward ensuring the trust we owe to our veterans. i thank you for your support and dedication to our nation's veterans. mr. chairman i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman from arizona yields back her time.
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does any member rise in opposition? the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. dent: i seek unanimous consent to rise in opposition to the amendment but i'm not opposed to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. mr. dent: we support the amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman from arizona. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition? mr. gosar: mr. chairman, i have an amendment, 5 -- 054 at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona. page 30, line 15, after the first dollar amount insert, reduce by $3,200,000. page 32, line 5, after the dollar amount insert, increase by $3,200,000. the chair: pursuant to the house resolution, the gentleman from arizona and a member opposed will each control five minutes. mr. gosar: mr. chairman, i rise to offer an amendment to
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provide additional resources for the informational technology systems at the department of veterans affairs. updates and upgrades in g.i.t. systems at the v.a. are parment to community -- paramount to meeting the goals of backlog reduction. i applaud the committee for recommending resources above and beyond last year's enacted levels but the recommended levels are significantly beneath the president's budget request levels. last year i offered an amendment to the same appropriations bill, house amendment 635 which transferred just over 3.2 -- $3.2 million from the v.a. to the i.t. systems account. that amendment was agreed to by voice. today i offer essentially the same amendment. i just wanted to note, as i have before, that many of our veterans are simply giving up. they're either giving up on trying to obtain the benefits they deserve or, worse some of them are giving up on life altogether. it is a travesty and this is an appalling trend that must be
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reversed. i appreciate the committee's hard work and its acknowledgment of their importance of reducing the backlog in this bill. having said that, i think we can do more. and should focus on prioritizing funding for efforts that will lead to timelier care for our nation's heroes as opposed to administrative expenses. my commonsense amendment proposes redirecting a fraction of the funds in the general administrative account away from things like fundings for conferences expenses and bureaucrats and shifting those funds toward reducing the v.a.'s backlog. i urge my colleagues to support this simple amendment to improve i.t. systems at the v.a. mr. dent: would the gentleman yield? mr. gosar: i will. mr. dent: i understand the gentleman's focus on providing information technology resources to the v.a. in order to meet the goals of eliminating the backlog. i have no objections to the amendment. i yield back. mr. gosar: i certainly thank the distinguished chair and the ranking member and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from arizona yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the
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gentleman from arizona. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. the clerk will read. the clerk: line 20, board of veterans appeal, $107,884,000. general operating expenses, veterans benefits administration, $2,697,734,000. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. ruiz of california. page 3 1, line 9, after the dollar amount insert, reduce by
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$5 million, increase by $5 million. the chair: the gentleman from california and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. mr. ruiz: i would like to start off by saying thank you to chairman dent and ranking member bishop for your hard work on this appropriations bill. i rise today to offer an amendment to h.r. 2029, the military construction and veterans affairs and related agencies appropriations act for 2016. this amendment is for the brave men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. our veterans. california is home to almost two 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. as our troops come home and assimilate back into civilian life, it is critical that we do
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not abandon our veterans when they put down their weapon. instead, we must ensure they have timely access to the critical benefits they have earned and deserve. uncon schennably, thousands of veterans who have sacrificed for our country are struggling to access benefits they have already earned. due to lingering claims backlog at the veterans affairs administration veterans across our nation are waiting for pensions, prescription drugs and even life-saving medical care. veterans are still waiting for the v.a. to process 448,000 benefit claims and 176,000 of those veterans have been waiting longer than 125 days for a decision. our work to clear this harmful backlog is not finished. and we owe it to these courageous men and women to do so as soon as possible. these figures are staggering. but the people this is affecting are not mere statistics. they are men and women like retired air force master
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sergeant andrew walker and his family from beaumont, california. mr. walker and his family waited years on end without receiving the critical care he was promised earned and desperately needed. while i am heartened that i was able to help resolve mr. walker's claim, the backlog remains an enduring nightmare for too many veterans across the country. reduced to a claim number and a seemingly endless line, 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 like andrew walker their hard-earned benefits as soon as possible. as a member of the v.a. committee, i am fighting to change the culture at the v.a. from the inside out. by focusing on veteran-centered care and ensuring that the v.a. continues working to eliminate this backlog. we can take much-needed steps in keeping faith with our veterans and getting them the benefits they've earned.
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that is why i'm offering this amendment to advocate for an additional $5 million to fund the digital scanning 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 benefit 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 such tribulations can be for a person with ptsd or depression. we will further increase v.a.'s capacity to tackle the claims backlogs. let us continue to bear in mind that these men and women have served this country and they have put their lives on the line. we must serve them by making sure that congress focuses on eliminating the claims backlog for good. i encourage my colleagues to stand up for veterans and
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support my pragmatic amendment to reduce veterans claims processing times. mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from california. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the semmed is agreed to -- the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from michigan seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. walberg of michigan. page 3 1, line 9, after the dollar amount insert, reduced
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by $5 million increased by $5 million. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from michigan and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan. mr. walberg: thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to start by thanking subcommittee chairman dent and chairman rogers for their work in developing this legislation to address the current and future needs of our nation's veterans. i rise to offer an amendment that highlights the need for veterans' job training as part of this appropriations bill. simply my amendment would designate $5 million within the general operating expenses of the veterans' benefits administration account, to support programs that help our veterans transition to the work force. michigan's home to more than 660,000 veterans who contribute every day to the vitality of our communities. these men and women have developed marketable skills
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from technical training in mechanics, i.t. and health care, to leadership qualities, ethics and problem solving abilities. yet too many of them struggle to find employment after they've completed their service. those veterans recently returned from iraq and afghanistan face unique challenges to finding employment as those who served in active duty since september, 2001, face a jobless rate that is 1.7 percentage points higher 7.2% veterans versus 5.5% national, than the general population. . the house has taken a number of good steps to help veterans transition to the private sector. we're passing the hire more heroes act to remove costly obama care mandates that discourage the hiring of veterans, to working with employers to help them understand the benefits of
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hiring veterans. but we can co-do more to ensure these brave men and women have the opportunity for gainful employment when they return to our communities. the v.a. should use these designated funds to focus on difficulties veterans face, translating their valuable skills to suitable employment in civilian sector. for example, as the commerce -- as the committee rightly highlights in their report, the v.a. should refine and upgrade its military skills translator tool to more accurately reflect the transferable skills of transitioning military veterans. the v.a. should also increase peculiar awareness and access to this tool for our nation's employers. if we're to develop the 1st century work force, our nation cannot afford to leave our veterans behind. and if we are to meet our obligation to those who have put their lives on the line in
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service to our country we must work to improve the transition from military service to the career field. i hope my colleagues will support this commonsense amendment to help our veterans get back to work and i yield the balance -- >> would the gentleman yields? mr. walberg: i yield. mr. dent: i know the gentleman has a deep commitment to job training for our returning veterans and i support this amendment. i yield back. mr. walberg: i thank the chairman and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from michigan. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. the clerk: page 31, line 20 information technology systems including transfer of funds.
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$4038,363,000. office of inspector general, $131766,000. projects, $561,800,000. the chair: the gentleman will suspend. for what purpose does the gentlewoman seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. brownlee of california. in the department of veterans' affairs departmental administration construction: major projects account, strike the aggregate dollar amount and insert $1,143,848,000. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i reserve a point of order on the gentlewoman's amendment. the chair: without objection the gentleman reserves a point of order. pursuant to house resolution 2
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23, the gentlewoman from california and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlewoman from california. ms. brownlee: i rise this afternoon to offer an amendment to h.r. 2029. my amendment would restore the funding for major construction projects in the department of veteran affairs to $1.014 billion to meet the level the v.a. has requested. as ranking member of the house veterans affairs subcommittee on health, i share the outrage of many of my colleagues over the unacceptable ms. management of the v.a.'s major construction program. i agree that v.a. management must be held accountable for their failure to manage construction costs for the denver hospital. ms. brownley: congress must reform the v.a. construction program so it uses taxpayer dollars wisely and efficiently. however, we cannot continue to
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ignore the sad state of disrepair in v.a. hospitals and clinics across our country which are in desperate need of funding for modernization and health and safety improvements. most of the v.a.'s medical infrastructure is old and outdated. the average building age is approaching 60 years. many v.a. health facilities urgently need seismic retrofitting or emergency repairs. other are -- others are too small to accommodate the growing population of veterans returning home from iraq and afghanistan and the aging population of veterans who served in vietnam continues to put great stress on the v.a. many veterans in underserved communities like ventura county are counting on us, on congress to ensure that new construction projects are delivered and that their health care needs will be met.
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the funding levels in the bill would delay v.a. plans to expand health care facilities and many -- in many locations harming v.a.'s ability to provide care to veterans. if a current funding level in this bill is made law, the v.a. would have to scuttle plans for a rehabilitative therapy building in st. louis, missouri two outpatient clinics in alameda and french camp and a community living cent for the maryland. the laying these projects is not the right way to hon now our commitment to our nation's veterans. draconian funding cuts to the v.a.'s major construction program are not the only way veterans are being shortchanged in the bill before us today. the majority's bill also failed to meet the administration's budget request in other areas including medical services medical facilities and information technology. for example the v.a. estimates that at the bill's current funding level, over 70,000 fewer
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veterans will receive medical care compared to the administration's request. in addition, the v.a. will not be able to pay for cemetery expansions in st. louis portland, riverside puerto rico, and pensacola, which would have enabled the department to serve 18,000 and their family members annually. veteran advocates, including am vets disabled american veterans, paralyzed veterans of america and veterans of foreign wars agree that in the long run congress will be forced to appropriate much larger sums to enable the v.a. to catch up on the deficits being created by this bill. not only in capital infrastructure but in critical investments in other v.a. services in health care. if we really want to change the culture of the v.a. and ensure that veterans everywhere can get the services and benefits they have earned, congress must do its part by investing in our veterans. when congress cuts corners
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wurkpe the health and well being of the men and women who have served this country at risk. i realize mr. chairman, i realize that my amendment is subject to a point of order so i intend to withdraw my amendment but we must fix this bill before it moves forward and i will ask for unanimous consent to withdraw my amendment. the chair: without objection, the amendment is withdrawn. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 37 line 9 construction, minor projects $406,200,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. grants for construction of extended care facilities, $80 million. grants for constructions of veterans cemeteries $45 million. administrative provisions including transferring of funds section 201, any appropriation
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for compensation and pensions may be transferred as necessary. section 202 including transfer of funds amounts under the medical services accounts may be transferred among the accounts. section 203. appropriations available for salaries and expenses shall be available for services authorized. section 204. no appropriations shall be available for the purchase of any site for or toward construction of any new hospital. section 205. no appropriations shall be rable for hospitalation or examination of any persons except beneficiaries under laws providing ben fis to veterans unless reimbursement of cost is made to the medical services account. section 206. appropriations for compensation and pensions and veterans' insurance shall be available for
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prior year accrued obligation. section 07. appropriations shall be available to pay prior year obligations of corresponding appropriations accounts. section 208 including transfer of funds. the secretary shall reimburse the general operating expenses accounts for the cost of administration of the insurance programs. section 209. amounts deducted from enhanced use lease proceeds may be only gated in the fiscal year in which the proceeds are received. section 210, including transfer of funds, funds available for salaries available shall also be available to reimburse the office of resolution management. $43,047,000. section 20 1. no appropriations shall be available to enter into any new lease if the annual rental cost
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is more than $1 million. section 212. no funds shall be available for medical services under chapter 17 of title 38, united states code, for a nonservice connected disability. section 213 including transfer of funds. provides from enhanced use leasing activities may be deposited into the construction major projects and construction minor projects accounts. section 214. amounts under medical services are available for funeral expenses and other expenses incidental to funerals and burials. section 215 including transfer of funds, sums deposited to the medical care collections fund may be transfered to medical services. section 216 the secretary may enter into agreements with
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indian tribes which are party to the alaska native health compact and with the indian health service to provide health care. section 217 including transfer of funds. sums deposited to the department capital asset fund may be transferred to the construction major projects account. section 218. none of the funds may be used to implement any policy prohibiting the directors of veterans integrated service networks from conducting outreach. section 219 the secretary shall submit a quarterly report on the financial status of the veterans health administration. section 220 including transfer of funds, amounts under the medical services and national cemetery administration accounts may be transferred to or from the information technology systems accounts. section 221. of amounts to the department for fiscal year 2016, not more than
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20% of the funds made available shall be obligated during the last two months of that fiscal year. section 222 including transfer of funds. amounts for medical services in information technology systems up to $266,303,000 may be transferred. section 23 including transfer of funds. amounts for medical services and medical facilities up to $265,675,000 may be transferred. section 224 including transfer of funds. sums deposit to the medical care collections fund shall also be available for transfer to the joint department of defense, department of veterans' affairs medical facility demonstration fund. section 225 including transfer of funds. amounts available for medical services, a minimum of $15
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million shall be transferred to the d.o.d. v.a. health care sharing incentive fund. section 226 including rescissions of funds. funds appropriated in title 2 of division i of public law 113-235 which became available on october 1 2015, are rescinded. section 227 the secretary shall notify the committees of all bid savings for a major construction project that total at least $5 million. section 228, none of the funds for construction major projects may be use forward project in excess of the scope specified for that project. section 229. the secretary shall submit to the committees a quarterly report that contains the average time to complete a disability compensation claim. the chair: clerk will suspend.
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for what purpose does the gentleman seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. llama fa of california. page 53, line , strike and after the semicolon. instert the following before the colon. semicolon and eight, the number of informal claims that are unprosessed. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 23, the gentleman from california and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from california. . mr. lamalfa: each quarter the secretary of veterans affairs must include several metrics from each -- each and every v.a. regional office to the house and senate appropriations committee. the report includes average time to complete a disability claim the backlog error rates and other important details. with this amendment the secretary of v.a. must also include the number of informal claims that are unprocessed. this amendment allows congress
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to receive a more complete picture of the regional office workload. we've seen a troubling trend instances in oakland and other v.a. regional offices of informal claims that have not been handled properly and even waiting decades for some those claims to be processed. informal claims should be included in this quarterly report from the secretary and this amendment simply requires that that be done so. therefore giving congress and veterans a better picture of what that load would be and then we can address that appropriately. so that's the amendment. the chair: does the gentleman or does the gentleman he yield back? mr. lamalfa: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? >> if the gentleman will yield? will the gentleman from california yield? mr. lamalfa: i yield? mr. dent: we support the amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. lamalfa: again, mr. speaker, it's a very simple
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amendment and will make a clearer picture for what the real backlog of informal claims that has gone on -- not enough attention in the work of the v.a. in recent years. again we keep finding it's an issue of importance and one of great concern as we discovered some of the regional offices we deal with it. the chair: does the gentleman yield back? mr. lamalfa: i yield back. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from california. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 53, line 6 section 230, the secretary shall submit to the committees a reprogramming request if the funding allocated is adjusted by more than $25 million. section 231, of the funds provided for medical services, a maximum of $5 million may be obligated. section 232, the secretary
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shall provide written notification to the committees 15 days prior to organizational changes which result in a transfer of 25 or more full-time equivalents. rescission of fund, section 233, $100,1,000. the secretary shall provide notification of any outreach, marketing campaign in which obligations exceed $2 million. section 235 none of the funds may be used to replace the current system to which the veterans integrated service system diabetes monitoring supplies. section 236, including transfer of funds, the secretary may transfer to the medical services account appropriations made available for fiscal year 2016. section -- the chair: the clerk will postpone. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. bishop: i rise to strike the last word.
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the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. bishop: i'd like to yield to mr. lowenthal. mr. lowenthal: i'd like to thank the ranking member and also chairman for providing me this time to speak on the floor. i'm going to go back, my congressional district is home to the long beach veterans administration hospital, the american gold star manor which is a manor which provides affordable housing for mothers who've lost their sons at war and for veterans, and it's also home to the lows alimmediate oast joint training base -- los alamedos joint training base. i'm co-sponsoring this amendment to address the disability claims and appeals backlogs and provide hopefully more funding for full-time employees to address these issues. i want to share with you just quickly my concerns. there are long delays in aid and attendance claims, particularly with regard to elderly, frail veterans with rapidly declining health
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issues, and approval is slow and sometimes comes actually too late, allowing the veterans to suffer for no reason. this year i had 100% service-connected and purple heart veterans with parkinsons disease who filed for aid in attendance in 2013. at that time he needed care-taking assistance at his home but was initially denied. in march of 2014, i received a call from his son who informed me that he -- his father had fallen, broken his shoulder. during this time my constituent had to produce multiple pieces of paper and doctors' confirmation of the disability even though he is an amputee. his son called my office and informed my caseworker in the district that he needed immediate assistance for his father. my caseworker called my staffer in d.c. who ran to the v.a. connelly ason office here in the capitol to see what can be done during this time.
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i spoke to the v.a. about this situation. my constituent received immediate assistance because i called. my constituent was finally awarded aid and attendance in may of 2014. mr. speaker, our veterans should not have to wait for medical care and suffer while they're waiting for months and years. our veterans deserve better service than we're giving them. it's unnecessary for these types of emergency to occur. last year i encouraged the department to use this funding to hire additional staff and stated i do not believe providing overtime pay for workers who are already stretched thin was enough. i'm pleased to see there is funding to hire more full-time employees, but we still need more workers in order for the v.a. to respond faster. i'm still concerned that the veterans benefits administration is not requesting adequate resources to expeditiously handle the current backlog or new claims, which are expected to increase.
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the v.a. is still contracting claims to other regional offices other than the home office. it's making progress. however, the claims are still taking as long as two years for resolution. v.a.'s encouraging veterans to use electronic benefits, ebenefits though many vietnam-airar veterans need assistance with this technology. mr. speaker -- vietnam-era veterans need assistance with this technology. mr. speaker, in closing, when we ask them to sacrifice their lives on our behalf, our nation needs to make a promise to take care of them throughout their lives, ensuring that our veterans receive the best care after their years of service to our nation is a moral responsibility which must happen. pledge my continued spork to work with secretary mcdonald and the department of veterans affairs, my colleagues and the stakeholder groups and my constituents to address these issues. mr. speaker, i ask that you support this amendment and i
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yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. mr. bishop: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from georgia yields back. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 56, line 20, including transfer of funds section 237 amount under the board of veterans appeals and the general operating expenses, veterans benefits administration, accounts may be transferred. rescission of funds, section 238, $15 million are hereby rescinded. section 239 the secretary may not reprogram funds among major construction projects if such reprogramming will exceed $5 million. rescission of funds, section 240, $197,923,000 are rescinded. section 41, the amounts made -- 241, the amounted made available are hereby -- the amounts made available are hereby rescinded. the chair: for what purpose
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does the gentleman from michigan seek recognition? >> mr. chair, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: an amendment offered by mr. benishek of minnesota. section 242, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this act, the secretary of veterans affairs shall submit to congress a report that describes the status, including the timeline for completion of each community-based outpatient clinic to be established by the department of veterans affairs through construction or lease that is not yet completed. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from michigan and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i reserve a point of order on the gentleman's amendment. the chair: the gentleman reserves a point of order. the gentleman from michigan is
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recognized for five minutes. mr. benishek: i rise to have the secretary of the v.a. to report to congress the status currently in the leasing or construction access. they don't need to drive hundreds of miles like those in northern michigan. they can serve an important role of providing care to veterans in their communities. however, no one is served when the v.a. takes many years to approve and complete these projects. in traverse city, michigan, an expansion for the v.a. clinic was approved and funded by congress in 2013. after i sent letters to the secretary asking for an explanation, the program was finally approved by the v.a. in august of 2014. to this day the v.a. has yet to make measurable progress on this facility and they told me it could be as many as six more years before this facility is completed. our veterans deserve to know how many facilities are facing similar delays. as we work to enforce some
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accountability at the v.a., we can't ignore our rural veterans that rely on v.a. clinics. the v.a. must be held accountable for these delays. i want to know who in the agency is responsible. my goal is for all veterans to have a choice in where they receive care. we've taken an important step toward that with the choice act. i look forward to continuing to work to expand that program. however, it's critical that we do not allow the v.a. to hold veterans and taxpayers in limbo as critical funded projects sit unfinished. the money we provide in this bill is not for plush executive salaries and full retirement benefits for those that manipulate data. it's for our veterans. v.a. must return to its focused mission and remove bureaucratic hurdles that keep veterans from the care they have earned. i'll reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from michigan reserves. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: mr. chairman, i make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes
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to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriation bill and therefore violates clause 2 of rule 21. the rule states in pertinent part part an amendment in an appropriation bill slal not be in order if changing existing law. it gives affirmative direction and effect. i ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: does any other member wish to be heard on the point of order? the chair finds that this amendment imposes new duties on the secretary of veterans affairs. the amendment therefore constitutes legislation in violation of clause 2 of rule 21. the point of order is sustained and the amendment is not in order. mr. benishek: i work with him. the clerk: title 3, related agencies. american battle monuments commission, salaries and expenses, $75,100,000.
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foreign currency fluctuations accounts for necessary expenses of the american battle monuments commission sums necessary for purposes authorized by section 2109 of title 36 united states code. united states court of appeals for veterans, claims, salaries and expenses, $32,141,000. department of defense, cemeteryial expenses, army, salaries and expenses, $70,800,000. armed forces, retirement home trust fund, $64300,000. administrative provisions, section 301, funds 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. section 302, amounts shall be available until expended to support activities at the army national military cemeteries.
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title 4 overseas contingency operations, department of defense, military construction, navy and marine corps, $244,400,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from south carolina seek recognition? >> amendment at the desk. clerk clrk can amendment offered by mr. mulvaney of south carolina, strike title 4. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: reserve a point of order. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman
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from south carolina and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney: i want to read something at the beginning of this quote abuse of the overseas contingency operation, global war on terror is a backdoor loophole that undermines the budget process. the budget committee will oppose increases that our military commanders say unless it can be demonstrated that such amounts are war-related. end quote. that is from last year's house-passed budget report. last year, this body took a position that we weren't going to use the global war on terror budget in order to get around the b.c.a. caps. the appropriations bill as currently offered does exactly
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that. it spends $532 million in the o.c.o. budget for matters that the department of defense admits are not war-related. these are matters that the department of defense included in its original base defense budget request, but which there wasn't enough money under the b.c.a. caps. the appropriators have taken those requests which are admittedly not war-related and buried it in this appropriations bill using the c.o. -- o.c.o. money. by the way, the money goes to overseas bases in italy, poland bahrain niger. admitted by the defense department not to be war-related, but is in the war budget today. all i ask, mr. chairman, is this. if we agree as a body that we cannot live within the b.c.a. caps, and we agree that the defense of the nation takes more
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money than is permitted under the b.c.a. caps, then let's break the caps and do it honestly and openly and tell the people where the money is going. the budget has been described by both the democrats and republican as a slush fund. the defense department doesn't like using this type of money because it doesn't allow them to budget properly. it is a desperate act. it is a dishonest act when it comes to following the law. the budget control act is the law of the land. passed in the house and passed in the senate, signed by the senate. and this appropriations bill seeks to break the law and seeks to do it in such a way that isn't even honest about how it's going forward. i respectfully request that we strike the o.c.o. money from this particular appropriations
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bill. with that, i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: on the point of order on the amendment i make a point of order against the amendment because it amends portions of the bill not yet red, it states in part it is not in order to strike or amend portions of the bill not yet read for amendment. ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: any member wish to be heard on the point of order. mr. mulvaney: this seeks to strike article 4 on page 62 and that's exactly where we are when i was called to the podium. the chair: any other member wish to be heard? the chair: the gentleman from maryland is recognized. mr. van hollen: it strikes the provision and therefore, meets the requirements. after all, this is the first bill we're debating since the
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budget was passed. the budget opens the door wide to this accounting scam that republicans on the budget committee just last year said was a gross runaround of the budget rules. i want to read, mr. speaker, from the report from the budget committee last year that said, abuse of the o.c.o. cap adjustment is a backdoor loophole that undermines the integrity of the budget process. the chair: the gentleman must contain his remarks to the point of order. mr. van hollen: i want to point out that the budget committee itself has indicated that this violates the budget process. and so, it's hard to understand how -- the chair: the gentleman from maryland has to address the point of order. mr. van hollen: this undermines
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the budget process. mr. mulvaney: i have a parliamentary inquiry as to the point of order. is the point of order that we have not reached the appropriate time for making this particular amendment? the chair: the point of order has been stated. the chair is not yet prepared to rule. mr. mulvaney: would the gentleman from pennsylvania restate the point. mr. dent: the point of order is we aren't in the appropriate point in the bill for this amendment to be considered. mr. mulvaney: thank you for that mr. dent. my understanding is we are on page 62, that's the page on which title 4 is printed. my amendment does nothing more than strike title 4. this is the appropriate time to deal with that amendment and maybe out of order if i don't offer it right now. the chair: the chair is prepared to rule. the amendment strikes title 4.
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only the first paragraph of title 4 is pending. it is not -- parliamentary inquiry. mr. van hollen: just so i understand the ruling. as i understand the ruling because the amendment strikes all of this section as opposed to the portion of the section we are currently on, it is being ruled out of order, is that correct? the chair: only one paragraph is currently pending. mr. van hollen: parliamentary inquiry, is there going to be a point in time when that entire section is pending? the chair: the entire first paragraph of title 4 is pending -- when that is pending. mr. van hollen: i understand that it is as is, but i
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understand we are on the first paragraph. parliamentary inquiry, is going go to be a point in time when the entire section is pending such that this amendment would be considered in order since the amendment is to strike the entire section? the chair: the bill is being read paragraph by paragraph. mr. mulvaney: parliamentary inquiry mr. chairman. is the ruling without prejudice as to my ability to offer the amendment at a later time? the chair: the paragraph that has been read is open for amendment at this time. mr. mulvaney: i respect that mr. chairman. is your ruling with or without prejudice as to my ability to bring the same amendment at a later time?
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the chair: the chair cannot give an advisory opinion on a future amendment. mr. mulvaney: i'm asking to clarify the ruling you already made. is it with or without prejudice? the chair: the chair has ruled and will move on to other business. mr. van hollen: mr. speaker. i move to strike the pending paragraph. the chair: do you have an amendment? mr. van hollen: i ask unanimous consent to offer an amendment to strike the pending paragraph. mr. dent: object. the chair: if the gentleman would send his amendment to the desk. mr. mulvaney: parliamentary inquiry. again, i'm new at this and we are working our way through this. here's my question, if this was the inappropriate time for me to bring this amendment, why was i commond -- commoned to the podium? the chair: inquiring as to what
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the gentleman was seeking to offer. mr. mulvaney: further parliamentary inquiry. my amendment was read. mr. van hollen: mr. speaker, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: strike the pending paragraph, amendment offered by mr. van hollen. the chair: the gentleman from maryland and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: i'm pleased to offer this amendment with my colleague, mr. mulvaney. and now that we have gotten beyond the sort of procedural objections, let's go to the substance of this. this is the first appropriations bill that we have on the floor that raises the question about the budgets that were passed in both the house and the senate. and as i think our colleagues
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know well at this point, both those budgets engage in incredible accounting scams with respect to how we fund the department of defense and how we fund our military operations. for years, we have dissr distinguished between the monies we spend on the base budget and the money set aside in the war account, the so-called, overseas contingency account funds. what has happened here is the president, on the advice of the joint chiefs of staff and our military leadership, has requested the amount that is necessary to address our overseas contingency operations. instead of abiding by that request and what was necessary, the republican budget does this end-run and ends up using our
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overseas contingency account as a slush fund for funds that had been in the base defense budget. and as i was indicating earlier this indicating -- accounting scam something that the republican budget committee just last year objected to and indicated it violated the budget process. and i'm going to read another portion of the republican budget committee report from last year on this issue. where it says, the budget committee will exercise its oversight responsibilities with respect to the use of the o.c.o., the account designation in the budget process and it will oppose increases above the level the administration and our military commanders say are necessary to carry out operations and then it goes on, because those are not war-related. and so what this house is doing
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now is engaging in this incredible slight-of-hand and only one big problem in the budget before us, along with many other problems. but in this point, i would like to now defer to the gentleman from south carolina, mr. mulvaney if he would like to say a word on this amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. mulvaney: i thank the gentleman. and i repeat what i said earlier on the amendment that was ruled out of order. the b.c.a. is the law. we agreed that it is. i didn't vote for it. and i didn't like it. but it is the law. passed in this house, passed the senate, signed by the president. and we can change it. we absolutely can change it it if we want to. if that's the will of this body let's do it.
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but let's not go around the b.c.a. or use a slush fund something that is off budget, so i hope my friends in the private sector we have spending that is off budget, it doesn't count towards the budget. and if we can use it for this, what else can we use it for. we are using it for bases in poland bahrain, gentleman yudey and oman. it is in the war budget. what's to stop us from using it for anything. if the law is going to have let's respect it. bring a bill to change the budget control act and make your arguments. let's not be deceptive or mischiefous with the budget. if we think it's necessary for the defense of this nation to spend $532 million on base
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improvements in these overseas' countries, let's have folks come to the floor. let's not slip it into the budget and say who could vote against the vets, who could vote against milcon. nobody will notice it. that's how we get $18 trillion in debt. i support the department debt. i ask unanimous consent to be added as a co-sponsor to mr. van hollen's amendment. the chair: the amendment will not have co-sponsors. mr. van hollen: i ask unanimous consent that the original amendment was offered by mr. muscle are veiny to make this the muscle -- mulvaney amendment. the chair: the amendment may not have a co-sponsor. mr. van hollen: i'm asking that the amendment be the main sponsor -- i'm asking unanimous
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consent. the chair: willing to withdraw the amendment? mr. van hollen: only under the understanding -- parliamentary, if i withdraw it and substitute it in the name of mr. mulvaney, can i do that? the chair: a member may offer an amendment. . . mr. van hollen: this will be named the mulvaney-van hollen amendment. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: thank you, mr. chairman, i rise in opposition to the van hollen-mulvaney amendment. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. mr. dent: thank you. i just want to say there has been precedent to use oako money on similar projects in previous years. specifically the bahrain portion that's going through the u.s. navy as a pier
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replacement, ship facility, we used o.c.o. funds in fiscal years 2012 and 2013. if we strike the o.c.o. funding from this bill, the missile defense in poland, the asia missile defense complex will also be affected. we used o.c.o. money in fiscal year 2015. so i would argue that there is precedent for using o.c.o. funds for the purposes contained in this bill. it is appropriate. i do not agree with the characterization that it's a scam but it's a use that has precedent and i would urge rejection of this amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from maryland. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. the amendment is not agreed to. the gentleman from maryland.
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mr. van hollen: i ask for a roll call vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from maryland will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from south carolina rise? >> i move to strike the last word. i have an amendment at the desk to strike the second paragraph of article 4. the chair: the reading will progress to that next paragraph. the clerk will read the next paragraph. the clerk: page 52, line 15, military construction, air force. $75 million to remain available until september 30, 2020. the chair: the gentleman would send his amendment to the desk. mr. mulvaney: i believe my amendment is at the desk. or is on its way to the desk as we speak. and i'm moving to strike the second paragraph of article 4.
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the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. mulvaney of south carolina. strike page 62 line 15 through 22. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from south carolina and a member opposed will each control five minutes.
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the chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney: thank you, mr. chairman. unless mr. van hollen has anything to add, i believe the same arguments we just made on his previous amendment stands for this one so i'll reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from south carolina reserves the balance of his time. does any member seek time in opposition? mr. dent: i rise in opposition at this moment. the chair: the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney: i yield to the gentleman from maryland. mr. van hollen: i rise to the gentleman from south carolina saying that our military leadership has said that funds that are requested for this purpose under o.c.o. are not o.c.o. funds that they're not war-related funds. that's coming from the department of defense. that's coming from the folks who put together the budgets for the department of defense.
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so to just claim that somehow these expenditures, which have been described by mr. mulvaney, are now somehow part of the war effort as opposed to the ongoing defense budget is to say to the military leadership that they don't understand how their budgets work. i do think they understand how their budgets work and we're trying to make sure we protect the integrity of the process so people can't be using the war account as a slush fund which is exactly what this measure does. the chair: does the gentleman from maryland yield back? mr. van hollen: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from maryland yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from south carolina reserves. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: thank you, again. i rise in opposition to the amendment. this amendment essentially would strike the o.c.o. funds that would be provided to the air force, specifically in
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oman, for the airlift apron. i point out that president of the united states requested funding for this same funding under o.c.o. in fiscal year 2011 for the airlift ramp. i'm looking at the map of actually what the work that's -- of actually the work that's in the same site. we're talking about using it on the same site for the same purpose. so, again, i would argue that the airlift apron in oman is part of a facility that's very much part of our counterterrorism operations in that part of the world. so, again, i'd urge rejection of this amendment. the chair: does the gentleman reserve? does the gentleman yield back? mr. mr. dent: i'll reserve. the chair: the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney: i yield back. mr. dent: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from south carolina. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no.
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in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. the amendment is not agreed to. mr. mulvaney: mr. chairman, i ask for the yeas and nays. the chair: does the gentleman ask for a recorded vote? mr. mulvaney: yes. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from south carolina will be postponed. the clerk will read the next paragraph. the clerk: page 62, line 23, military construction defensewide, $202,996,000 to remain available until september 30, 2020. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from south carolina rise? mr. mulvaney: move to strike the last word. amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment.
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the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. mulvaney of south carolina. page 6 -- strike page 62, line 23 through page 63 line 6. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from south carolina and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney: mr. chairman, i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from south carolina reserves. does any member claim time in opposition? the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. mr. dent: yeah, as i understand this amendment, this would essentially eliminate o.c.o. funding for our operation in gentleman budey where we have infrastructure -- jabudi where we have infrastructure for fuel facilities. again, o.c.o. funds were used
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for similar purposes there in fiscal year 2012 and 2013. through o.c.o. i believe through the request of the president at the time jabudi is a key facility for us strategically and one that's being used in our fight in the global war on terror. it's obviously very close to somalia, a hotbed of islamist extremism as well as close to yemen where there's so much hostile action. again, i would urge that we reject this amendment because it will negatively impact our ability to conduct the global war on terror at a facility right in that part of the world and, again, where precedent has been set like in these other situations, precedent has been set with these o.c.o. funds and we're doing it again this year and i think it's appropriate and i urge rejection of the amendment. i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania reserves. the gentleman from south carolina is recognized. mr. mulvaney: mr. chairman i'd like to read a portion of the language we're seeking to
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strike. $212,996 to remain available until september 30, 2020. so not only are we looking to spend the money today, we're looking to have the right to spend this money whenever we want over the next five years. i don't know of any other part of the budget where we do that. if this is not a slush fund, mr. chairman, i don't know what it is. it was set up by previous administration, an administration, by the way of my party and has been decried by members of my party of being a slush fund. in fact, i think jaurn mccain called it a slush fund, for goodness sakes. i think senator corker called it the same thing. this is one of the reasons. we have no idea why we're spending this money. it's available until 2020. this is a great opportunity, mr. chairman, to say no. the money in the overseas contingency operation is there to support the troops who are overseas fighting a war.
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it is there to fight the global war on terror. it is not there for a slush fund for whatever bases we any is convenient at the time and for that i hope we support not only mr. van hollen's first amendment but my two subsequent amendments and with that i yield back the balance. the chair: the gentleman from south carolina yields back the balance. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: i do understand how construction is done. i do want to point out many of these projects were not funded in one single fiscal year but over a period of years both domestically and internationally, as is the case here. again, i would rise in opposition to the amendment and urge its rejection. thank you. the chair: does the gentleman -- mr. dent: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from south carolina. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. the amendment is not agreed to. mr. mulvaney: mr. chairman. the chair: the gentleman from south carolina. mr. mulvaney: on that i ask for a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from south carolina will be postponed.
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the clerk will read. the clerk: page 63, line 7, title 5, general provisions. section 501, no appropriation shall remain available beyond the current fiscal year unless expressly so provided. section 502, none of the funds may be used for any programs not in compliance with any federal law relating to risk assessment. section 503, all departments and agencies are encouraged to expand use of ecommerce technology. section 504, all reports shall be submitted to the subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs. section 505, none of the funds may be transferred except pursuant to transfer authority provided in this or any other appropriations act. section 506, none of the funds
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may be used for a project named for an individual serving as a member delegate or resident commissioner. section 507 any agency receiving funds shall post on the public website any report required upon the determination by the head of the agency. section 508 none of the funds may be used to maintain a computer network unless such network blocks the viewing of pornography. section 509, none of the funds may be used by an agency of the executive branch to pay for first-class travel. section 510, none of the funds may be used to execute a contract for goods, including construction services where the contractor has not complied with executive order 12989. section 511 none of the funds may be used by the department to lease or purchase new light-duty vehicles. section 512 none of the funds may be used to instruct any facility to house -- construct any facility to house any
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individual detained at united states naval station guantanamo base, cuba. >> mr. speaker i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. nadler of new york. strike section 512. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman from new york, and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york. national defense authorization act thank you, mr. speaker. i -- mr. nadler: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. nadler: mr. chairman, this amendment would strike section 512 of the bill which prohibits the use of funds to construct or expand any facility in the united states to house any individual detained at the detention facility at guantanamo bay, cuba. simply put, this section is designed to prevent the closure of guantanamo. mr. chairman, we are still holding 122 people at guantanamo. 57 of whom have been cleared for release. these people have been found
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guilty of nothing, are believed to be guilty of nothing and have been judged not to pose any danger. nonetheless they are not released. by what claim of right do we continue to imprison them? as for the detainees who have not been cleared for release, this bill is designed to ensure we will continue to hold them in guantanamo indefinitely. we don't know whether these people are enemy soldiers or not or are guilty of anything or not. some of them may be and some of them probably are not. those facts must be determined in a fair proceeding of some sort, but at guantanamo there are no proceedings. . the process has been at a complete standstill for years and colt hold trials at guantanamo. we are holding people with no purpose, no proceedings, no hearings, no opportunity to determine their guilt or innocence and we are holding them essentially forever. i recall a briefing last year at
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which representative, now senator cotton said these people were determined to be guilty by congress. aside from the fact that congress hasn't determined anyone to be guilty and congress trying to be guilty of a crime, that would be a violation of the bill of detainer section of congress is simply not true. they have been determined to be guilty of nothing and they deserve to have a day in court. how long will we let this shameful episode in american history continue? this is one of the founding principles in the united states no person may be deprived without liberty without due process of law and be deprived indefinitely we must close the detention fall silt at guantanamo now so they can be properly charged and tried in the federal court. this will afford the detainees no additional constitutional
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rights. the supreme court has ruled they have the same constitutional rights they would if brought to the united states. the federal courts in contrast to the military tribunals have an excellent record of prosecuting and convicting terrorists. anyone not charged either should be classified as a prisoner of war and treated as such and be released back to his country or elsewhere if it is a problem for his welfare. the president can and should without delay authorize the secretary of defense to use existing certification to repatriot and resettle abroad and arrange for trial in the united states all prisoners who are not cleared for release. we must close this facility.
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we must try, convict and sentence the people who are guilty of acts of terrorism or aggression against the united states or in accord with our moral and moral principles release those who are not guilty of offenses against the united states. only so can we restore our national honor. this amendment is necessary to start this process because without bringing some of these prisoners to the united states for trial, we cannot try them. i urge all of my colleagues to support this amendment. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. dent: section 512 has been included in this bill and part of the overall policy discussion involving guantanamo bay. identical language is carried in the 2015 defense appropriations
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bill. i respectfully request that we reject this amendment. guantanamo bay, we have about 120 prisoners there at that military prison, included among those who are at that facility is ca leak sheik muhammad. he is the mastermind of the 9 -- 9/11 attacks and mastermind of david perl and other high-value detainees there. i would urge that many of the prisoners down in guantanamo are yemeni. we can't send them back to yemen and it's also clear to me that many of these prisoners are difficult to try and too dangerous to release. i urge opposition to this amendment. i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. nadler: i note that the
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gentleman in opposing this amendment simply said it is part of a larger policy discussion about guantanamo. he is correct. there is identical language in other bills, he is correct and we should remove that language from the other bills and points out that high-value prisoners are at guantanamo. he is correct. and we ought to bring them to the united states and ought to try them and convict them and sentence them to death or life without parole. that's our tradition. we don't hold them forever without a trial. in our federal courts in the united states have an excellent record of trying and convicting people accused of terrorism. and the military tribunals at guantanamo, they can't run a trial. it has come to a complete standstill. there are bad people at guantanamo. and some perfectly innocent people at guantanamo. those ought to be released.
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the people we think who are guilty should be charged and tried. for someone who is going to be held for life imprisonment without trial is not what this country is about. mr. bishop: i rise in support of the amendment. we need to set the conditions of the closure of guantanamo. it has been in the united states' national security interest to do. it serves as a recruitment tool for terrorists. decreasing the will of others to work with america. part of the rationale for establishing guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced idea that the facility would be beyond the law. a proposition rejected by the united states supreme court. as a result continued operation of this facility creates the impression in the eyes of our
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allies and enemies alike that the united states selectively observes the rule of law. there is no reason that we should impose ourselves -- impose upon ourselves, the legal and moral problems arising from the prospect of indefinite detention at guantanamo. working through civil courts since 9/11, hundreds of individuals have been convicted of terrorism, of terrorism-related offenses and now serving long sentences in federal prison. not one has escaped custody. for these reasons, the time is past due to take the actions needed to initiate the closure of detention facilities at guantanamo. and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: i would like to remind the members that beau bergdahl
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was exchanged for five detainees from gitmo. and it's hard to keep our eyes on these folks in exchange for beau bergdahl who was charged with desertion. the mayor aagreed certain members to be brought to new york city to trial and apparently the mayor spoke to his commission mere and realized it was a mistake. i urge we reject this amendment and maintain the facility in guantanamo bay. i reserve. -- yield back. the chair: jabt. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new york. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the
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noes have it. the gentleman from new york. mr. nadler: i ask for the yeas and nays. the chair: does the gentleman ask for a recorded vote? mr. nadler: i do indeed. the chair: further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from new york will be postponed. the clerk will read. the clerk: page 67 line 5, spending reduction account, the amount by which the applicable allocation of new budget authority made by the committee exceeds the budget authority is zero dollars. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from louisiana seek recognition? mr. boustany: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. boustany of louisiana at the end of the bill, insert the following, one, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to pay a bonus or
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monetary award of title 5 united states code, two 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%. two the secretary of veterans affairs shall submit data on the following, a, the total number of emergency medical claims and bill charges for such claims. mr. boustany: i ask that we dispense with the reading. the chair: the reading is dispensed and the point of order is reserved. the gentleman from -- pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from louisiana and member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from louisiana. mr. boustany: thank you, mr. chairman. our veterans deserve better than long drawnout claims processes.
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it is unacceptable. since the passage of last year's landmark v.a. reform legislation, the v.a. has demonstrated disturbingly little progress on addressing emergency medical care claims processing backlog. i requested data on the v.a.'s progress in fiscal year 2015 and shocked to find that as of late march of this year, only 14, 14% of the claims originating from visn 16 have been processed within 30 days. that is abysmal. no employee at any business in louisiana or anywhere around this country would be given a bonus with poor success rate. it is high time that the v.a. starts demanding a high standard from its employees.
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this amendment prevents bonuses to emergency medical care processing staff until the the claims processed within 30 days reaches 90%. this is unacceptable behavior. we have time and time again have asked the v.a. and worked and asked them to clean up their act. our veterans are suffering. no way to treat them and i have offered this amendment. mr. chairman i understand this amendment and i understand the gentleman has a point of order raised against this amendment because it violates house rules but i feel compelled to speak out because of the plight of our veterans who are at the mercy of an incompetent agency and has to change. so with respect to my friend, the chairman of the subcommittee, i will respectfully withdraw the
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amendment but hope all members of this house on both sides of the aisle will work so we clean up this mess and treat our veterans the way they should be treated, because they have gone out and fought for us. with that, i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. without objection with's amendment is withdraw. for what purpose does the gentlewoman from texas seek recognition. >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: would the gentlewoman specify which amendment many? joel jackson lee amendment -- ms. jackson lee: i have an amendment that specifies. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. jackson lee at the end of the bill before the short title insert the following, section, the amounts otherwise provided by this act are revised by reducing the amount made available by department of veterans affairs information, technology services in the amount specified under such
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heading for -- ms. jackson lee: i ask that the amendment be considered as read. the chair: without objection. the amendment is considered as read. pursuant to house resolution 223, the the gentlewoman from texas and a member opposed will each control five minutes. ms. jackson lee: my first task is to thank the ranking member, mr. bishop, and chairman of the subcommittee mr. dent, both of whom i work with and consider them as champions and champions of the legislation that we have before us in terms of the needs that are there. however, there are needs that are addressed and i hold in my hand a list of veterans who have fallen upon hard times, one in particular who has three grown daughters serving in the military. she served in the navy for five years and had a divorce and needed to have housing assistance and her options were
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gin snisht and the importance of these individuals who still suffer. the jackson lee makes a modest but important by increasing supportive services by $2 million offset by the same amount to the $4 billion. today in our country there are $170,000 veterans who are homeless on any given night and perhaps as many express homelessness. go home to your district and engage with your veterans associations and your own constituents and they will come to you because they are homeless. the program helps veterans and their families and hit a rough patch in life and need help from the country that they risked their life to defend.
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the veterans don't have to remind us what they did. this assures that they receive the assistant in obtaining veterans and other beb fits. many are suffering ptsd or traumatic brain jer. they lived and we're grateful for it. many vietnam vote rts -- vets are just being diagnosed this program is crucial to helping them get an extra step in lifele i remind my colleagues of the kind of veterans we see every day who are willing to put on that uniform and sacrifice without asking one single thing in return. i ask my colleagues to support the amendment. i reserve the -- my time. the chair: does anyone speak time in opposition? the gentlewoman from texas is recognized. ms. jackson lee: let me -- i thank the gentleman.
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let me indicate the jackson lee amendment will enable this program to serve more veterans and families in need of help by providing a bit more funding to provide grants for nonprofit, private organizations to provide supportive services. the main point is that there is a need. i would only say that we need to follow the words of a veteran who said after getting services, i have a home. i enjoy being inside. let's give more of our veterans and veterans' families that very important quote i have a home and i enjoy being inside. i ask my colleagues to support the jackson lee amendment. with that, i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlelady from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the
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gentleman from florida seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. jolly of florida. at the end of the bill before the short title insert the following. section, none of the funds made available by used to qualify the closure of the united states naval station in guantanamo bay, cuba. the chair: pursuant to resolution 223, the gentleman from florida and a member opposed each will control five minutes. mr. jolly: this is a very simple measure. it simply prohibits the relinquishment, closure, transfer of naval station guantanamo bay out of the possession of the united states. in 1903, as a result of the cuban-american treat question, the united states began to occupy naval station guantanamo bay for lease as long as necessary or many perpetuity for naval operations. the treaty stated that the u.s.
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shall chers complete jures diction and control of the base while also recognizing the sovereignty of ewe ba. today, naval station guantanamo is a front line for our regional security in the caribbean. it supports our logistical work, d.h.s., migrant operations and disaster and humanitarian rere-leaf include regular sponding to the 1980's and 1990's mass migration as well as the 2010 haiti earthquake response. very importantly is what this measure does not do. it does not touch the detention facility and the politics of the detention facility. it focuses solely on the security of mane taining the naval station 90 miles off the coast of florida. it's an issue that's been brought right now because of the president's decision to normalize relations with cuba. also importantly, this doesn't make a position on normalizing relations with cuba. you could make the argument that narmalizing relations with cuba actually enhances and improves
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our national security because it allows adegreesal operational units at our naval station there engaging with locals improving our intelligence and our ability to respond. but the moment the president began to offer norm alingized relation the castro regime demanded the return of guantanamo. this is a matter of our national security to maintain it. you need not make this political, simply look at the j.a.t. advice and opinions of the previous three commanders of u.s. southern command. current general john kelly called gitmo indispensable to the departments of defense, homeland security, d.h.s. and state. the commander before him said it was of immense strategic value. prior to him, general douglas frazier contemplating the closure of the detention facility said even absent the detention facility, the naval
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station remains essential for executing the authorities of the united states. this is a matter of national security. we have a process for realigning and closing naval stations. this amendment simply prohibit prohibits the closure of guantanamo. i reserve my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. >> i'd like to claim time in opposition but i'm not opposed to the gentleman's amendment. the chair: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, i think sometimes people get confused about the role of guantanamo bay naval facility's mission. mr. bishop: there's a joint task force on detainee operations and there's a facility. no one has ever floated the base and giving it back to cuba so when the detainee mission ends, which it will we still need to have this facility. it's the southernmost military facility of the united states. i don't support the detainee
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operations but i do support the regular operation of the guantanamo bay naval facility and therefore i will not oppose the gentleman's amendment and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from florida. mr. jolly: i yield to the gentleman from pennsylvania. the chair: the gentleman yields to the gentleman from pennsylvania. the gentleman is recognized. mr. dent: thank you mr. chairman. i want to state that the underlying legislation does not include any funds to close the naval station at guantanamo bay a facility i have visited. i also should point out as the ranking member just stated, mr. bishop that the naval station is a key strategic location for southcom and i support the gentleman's amendment. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida reserves. the gentleman from georgia wish to be recognized? mr. bishop: i yield back.
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the chair: the gentleman from georgia yields back. the gentleman from florida. mr. jolly: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is adopted. >> mr. speaker. the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from oregon seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. blumenauer of oregon. at the end of the bill before she sthort title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available in this act may be used to administer veterans direct i 2011-004 with respect to the prohibition on v.a. providers from completing forms seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran's participation in a state marijuana program.
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the chair: pursuant to house resolution 23, the gentleman from oregon -- resolution 2230 -- for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i reserve a point of order on the gentleman's amendment. i have not seen the amendment yet. the chair: a point of order is reserved. pursuant to house resolution 2 23, the gentleman from oregon and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from oregon. mr. blumenauer: thank you, mr. speaker. i yield myself such time as i may consume. 36 states and the district of columbia have passed laws that provide legal access to medical marijuana in some form. over one million patients now use it to treat conditions from seizures, anxiety, chronic pain, nausea associated with chemotherapy, post-traumatic stress, at the recommendation of their fay sigs. over 213 million people reside in those jurisdictions. yet according to directive
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2011-004, the department of veterans' affairs prohibits its medical providers from completing forms brought by their patients seeking recommendations or opinions regarding a veteran's participation in a state marijuana program. the amendment i'm offering ensures that no funds made available to the v.a. can be used to implement this prohibition. it will not encourage doctors or patients to recommend or use medical marijuana. it would not authorize the possession or use of marijuana at v.a. facilities. it would simply free up v.a. providers to have an honest conversation about treatment options and recommend medical marijuana in accordance with state law if they think it is appropriate. it would not force veterans to not work with their primary care provider. i'm joined in offering this bipartisan amendment by congressman heck of nevada, dana rohrabacher a series -- a series of other members, some of whom you'll hear from.
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over 20% of the 2. million americans who served in iraq and afghanistan suffer from ptsd and depression. they should not be forced outside the v.a. system to seek a simple recommendation about a treatment that might help them manage these conditions. i will say while nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose we are watching veterans have prescriptions for opiates far more -- people who suffer from ptsd more than others. and their suicide rate is high. there's real danger in not providing balanced treatment. our v.a. physicians shouldn't be denied the right to have conversations about options and offer recommendations they think could bring relief. our veterans shouldn't be treated as second class citizens in states that permit medical marijuana. i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: thank you, mr. chairman. i withdraw my point of order and
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wish to claim time in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the reservation is withdrawn. the gentleman is recognized if opposition. mr. dent: thank you, mr. chairman. i do rise in opposition to the amendment. we had a similar debate in the full committee just last week. the v.a. must comply with all federal laws including the controlled substances act this act designates schedule one drugs such as marijuana as having no currently accepted medical use. there are criminal penalties associated with the production, distribution and use of these -- and possession of these drugs. it does not prevent them from participating in state programs it simply prevents v.a. doctors from filling out farm -- forms. veterans can participate in
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state programs but can't possess marijuana at v.a. facilities. changing the direct i doesn't change the d.e.a.'s interpretation of federal law and marijuana. d.e.a. advised v.a. its doctors can't issue anything that could be construed as a prescription or endorsement of medical marijuana. the amendment won't change the situation for veterans unless the physicians are willing to risk prosecution. i have to urge opposition and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from oregon. >> move to strike the last word. the chair: without objection the gentleman is recognized for five minutesful -- minutes. mr. bishop: i support the amendment offered by mr. blumenauer. just recently in georgia 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
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legalize marijuana to treat disease. i believe that we should not limit the veterans health administration in providing optimal pain care for our veterans. if medical marijuana is legal in the state, then the v.a. should be able to discuss that treatment option and allow the veteran to make his or her own choice. i believe that the v.a.'s published policy guidance related to the use of medical marijuana by veteran patients has become outdated. i believe supporting a veteran's right to use alternative methods to deal with pain is the right thing to do. that being said, i support the amendment and urge its adoption. i'd like to yield time to mr. farr. mr. farr: thank you for yielding. i hope that you heard the amendment because it said nothing about the doctor's ability to issue a prescription for use of medical marijuana. this simply lifts a gag order.
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now these doctors have taken an oath of office to do no harm. so so their ability is to talk to patients. they can tell patients that there is medical marijuana available. they can also tell patients that you shouldn't try it. you shouldn't use it. i mean what you want is just an--- an honest dialogue. you want to give doctors their professional capability to have a discussion with a veteran. that's all this bill does. look, our veterans are living in a civilian community and 33 states this is legal. but had they walk into -- with admitted problems that they want medical attention, the doctor cannot have a thorough discussion with them. that's all this amendment is. it says, let's let these doctors be like the civilian doctors, in the same offices in the same state, only maybe those civilian doctors can issue prescriptions where the veteran doctor can't.
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so this is very limiting because of the reasons that the chairman talked about, how this drug is listed. so, let's lift the gag order. let's -- we owe it to our veterans to give them complete information when they ask for it. even if it means discussing medical marijuana. i ask for an aye vote. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from georgia is recognized. mr. bishop: i yield to the gentlelady from california, ms. lee. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. lee: thank you. i want to thank the gentleman for yielding and just say i rise in very strong support of this bipartisan amendment which i'm very proud to co-sponsor with my colleague. this would finally put an end to the misguided v.a. policy that keeps our veterans from receiving the medicine that they need. today 23 state, the district of columbia, and guam have passed legislation allowing legal access to medical marijuana. what's more similar, the amendment says the federal government should respect states' rights and the will of voters on this issue have passed the house with
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bipartisan support. this amendment represents the will of more than 70% of voters who support patient access to medical marijuana and is supported across party lines. veterans should have the benefit of being able to know what the options are. so many of our veterans are suffer from ptsd and other medical problems which possibly this would help in terms of relievinging their pain and providing for the quality of life from thank they so deserve. this amendment would put and he to that policy that keeps our veterans from receiving the medicine and the counseling and the care that they so deserve. i hope we have an aye vote on. this thank you, again mr. bishop, and thank you again, mr. blumenauer. mr. bishop: may i inquire of the chafe are chair of how much time is left? the chair: approximately one minute on your striking of the last word. mr. bishop: i'd like to yield
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to the gentlelady, ms. titus. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. titus: thank you very much for yielding. i just want to say very simply that we short change our veterans. if we don't give them the opportunity to have every possible medical treatment that is out there. we know that certain states have legalized medical marijuana. in those states our veterans deserve to have that as an option. to short change them is just unconscionable and i urge a yes vote. the chair: does the gentleman from georgia wish to yield back? mr. bishop: yes. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from oregon is recognized. mr. blumenauer: may i inquire as to the time remaining? the chair: 2 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from oregon and 3 1/2 minutes to the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. blumenauer: i would yield a money and a half to my
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colleague from california, congressman rohrabacher. the chair: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. rohrabacher: thank you very much. the question we are discussing is simply whether the veterans administration positions can -- physicians can recommend the use of marijuana or not recommend the use of marijuana to their parents -- to their patients. as republicans, we supposedly believe in the doctor-patient relationship. but apparently some of my colleagues believe that that relationship is not relevant when it comes to v.a. doctors and their patients. the patients who happen to be our nation's great heroes who went off to defense us in -- defend us in war. it is criminal that we send our men and women off to war where their minds and bodies are broken and then deny them the ability to obtain a medical recommendation from a legitimate v.a. doctor upon their return home. why is it that we have faith in
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the medical qualifications of congress to determine the best medical practices rather than those people who are doctors in the veterans administration? i would submit that perhaps marijuana is a better option for some patients and maybe not. but we should stop this heavy-handed topdown approach and allow our veterans administration physicians and their patients to determine for themselves the best use and the best treatment that they would be able to have. let's respect these people and their rights. i thought we republicans believed in the doctor-patient relationship. if you either do or you don't. if you vote this down, you don't believe in the doctor-patient relationship for our veterans, of all people. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: thank you mr. chairman. look, i understand my colleagues they're very
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sincere in their attempt. i'm sympathetic to at least listening to the arguments for medicinal marijuana. but this must be driven by the science. i'd love to hear from the national institutes of health food and drug administration and the medical community formally about their views on this had this issue prior to us legislating on this -- on this issue prior to us legislating on this issue. >> look, as a veteran, as a physician and someone who has treated veterans i appreciate the sacrifice our men and women in uniform have made and our duty to give them the best possible care. that means care based on real science. mr. harris: not promise, not hope not conjecture, not politics, not as a partisan agenda. but real science. you know, the chairman says we should wait for good science. we should wait to hear from the experts. we don't need to wait. we've heard. the head of the national
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institute of drug abuse at the n.i.h. says medical marijuana in the current state of medical knowledge is not a good idea. there just isn't very good science behind what it works for and what it doesn't. so i agree when good science is at hand, let's give doctors carte blanche to discuss that. that science isn't available. worse than that mr. chairman this bill does nothing to advance the knowledge of science in this issue. because it doesn't say we're going to sign veterans up for research so we can -- so they can help other veterans answer the question of whether or not it helps it. doesn't do anything like that -- it doesn't do anything like that. it doesn't make it easier for them to enlist in research protocols, to address the scientific questions. the chairman of the subcommittee asked, well, we should hear from the f.d.a., we should hear from d.e.a. we hear from all of them. they say medical marijuana is not scientifically based at this time.
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so what i've offered to the members, you know, the author of the amendment, he and i have been to the n.i.h. he knows my interest getting to the bottom what have works and what doesn't. we're not doing our veterans a service. we could. if we asked to engage in more scientific research, we could do them a service. if this amendment in fact encouraged in any way shape or form further research on what works or doesn't, we could be doing them a service but it doesn't. and that's why i oppose this effort. not at helping our veterans but this specific earth. i yield back -- effort. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from pennsylvania has one minute remaining. the gentleman from oregon has one minute remaining. mr. dent: at this time i yield one minute, the balance of my time, to the distinguished gentleman from louisiana, dr. fleming. the chair: the gentleman from louisiana is recognized for one minute. mr. fleming: i thank my friend chairman. as a practicing physician, a veteran myself the way we
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approach health care is not to just allow any health care provider to do whatever he or she wants to do at the time. that's simply not the way health care works. so let's look specifically at the problem ptsd, which is one of the worst problems that we're dealing with today among veterans. what if have we found just in the last year? -- what have we found just in the last year? that smoking pot increases the psychotic episodes by a factor of two to four times normal. the conversion to schizophrenia, a permanent mental disorder, is enhanced by pot by a factor of two. double. so why in the world would we give a drug that is addictive, that is prohibited as schedule one, that is not accepted for any specific medical disease or disorder and it enhances psychosis and schizophrenia, why are we going to give that to our veterans, especially those with ptsd? that is just absolutely insane.
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with that i yield back and thank you. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from pennsylvania's time has expired. the gentleman from oregon is recognized. mr. blumenauer: thank you. first, it isn't just ptsd that medical marijuana is used for. there's a whole host of other conditions that are available. second, the medical marijuana train has left the station. a million americans have a legal right to use medical marijuana and they do so. you want to treat veterans differently. third medical marijuana is nowhere near as addictive as what is happening to our veterans right now veterans seen by agency doctors are dying from prescription drug overdoses nearly twice the national average. nobody dies from an overdose of marijuana. and the v.a. doctors prescribe significantly more opiates that are higher addictive to patients with ptsd and depression than other veterans. even though those people
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suffering those conditions are more at risk of overdose and suicide. get your facts straight. i'm happy it to do more research -- i'm happy to do more research. i have work coming forward. but in the meantime don't treat these veterans as second class citizens. if you want to be concerned, be concerned about the explosion of addictive drugs that are being prescribed to people who we should be giving more care. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. mr. blumenauer: thank you. choir the gentleman's time has expired. the question is on -- the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from oregon. those in favor say aye. those opposed no. in the opinion of the chair the noes have it. mr. blumenauer: mr. speaker. i request a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from oregon will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the
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desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: designate -- designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 1 offered by mr. babin of texas. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from texas, and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. babin: thank you, mr. chairman. i rise to offer an amendment to terminate the v.a.'s abused appraised value offer program. so that these funds can be used to better serve the needs of our nation's veterans rather than v.a. bureaucrats. the v.a. spent nearly 300,000 -- $300,000 of taxpayer money to move a v.a. employee 140 miles. specifically from washington, d.c. to philadelphia. that's $300,000 that could have been used to care for numerous deserving veterans who have served this nation in uniform. but instead was spent to move
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someone 140 miles. at the request of the house veterans' affairs committee, the department of veterans affairs office of inspector general is investigating this abuse. and here is what we've learned so far. under the v.a.'s appraised value offer program, the v.a. paid more than $80,000 to one of its government employees and $211,000 to a federal contractor that was tasked with selling that employee's home. at a time when the v.a. is struggling to meet the medical needs of our veterans, it's unconscionable that the v.a. would waste $300,000 in taxpayer money to move someone 140 miles. unfortunately this is just another disturbing example of the lack of transparency and accountability at the v.a. the folks at the v.a. are already under scrutiny for their shocking failure to
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properly care for veterans. and now to spend $300,000 on this is absolutely abusive. clearly the v.a. cannot be trusted to exercise common sense with this program and it's time to end it. as a military veteran and a father of a decorated navy seal, i am deeply frustrated with the abuse and mismanagement at the v.a. our veterans must be the v.a.'s first priority, not its bureaucrats. i'd like to thank house veterans' affairs committee chairman jeff miller for shedding light on this important issue and holding the v.a. accountable for failing to put veterans first. so i urge my colleagues to support this amendment and to end this outrageous abuse within the department of veterans affairs. mr. dent: i do not object to the gentleman's amendment and he raised the philadelphia
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issue, i'm very much aware of it certainly concerned about it. i understand the purpose, i also understand the purpose of the appraised value program. a valued employee who would lose thousands to move at the request of their employeing agency, but sometimes the cost of the program is excessive in my view. in conference we may need to tweak the language to make sure that we aren't jeopardizing v.a.'s efforts to move talented staff to areas where they're needed but i do not object to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. does the gentleman wish to reserve? the gentleman from texas reserves. does any member rise in opposition to this amendment? the gentleman from texas is recognized. does the gentleman from texas yield back the balance of his time? mr. babin: i yield back. i still urge an aye vote for the amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it.
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the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlelady from north carolina seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mrs. adams of north carolina. at the end of the bill before she short title insert the following, one -- the chair: for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i reserve a point of order on the gentlelady's amendment. the chair: a point of order is reserved. clerk will report. the clerk: section 1, subject to paragraphs two and three, amounts made available -- mrs. adams: can i ask to dispense with the reading. the chair: without objection the reading is dispensed with. pursuant to house resolution 223, the squealt from north carolina and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from north carolina.
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mrs. adams: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank chairman dent and ranking member bishop for allowing me to present my amendment. i rise today to highlight the need for better access to resources and services for our veterans and military families. the u.s. department of veteran affairs are providing a vast aware -- array of services and resource ours heroes deserve. but the federal government alone is not able to address every challenge our service men an women and their families are facing and will face in the years to come. many local providers are starting their own initiatives to assist veterans with applying for benefits. for the 37,000 veterans in the 12th congressional district of north carolina, it's important that community based groups work collaboratively with local, state and federal service providers so they know where all these different benefits and services are and how to access them. additionally, we need to make
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sure we're holding service providers accountable and performance measures are in place. my amendment encourages the v.a. to assist with establishing and expanding technology systems at the local and state level to create a more unified network of veterans services. these networks would include private public and nonprofit partners who are qualified to serve veterans and their families. my amendment directs funding to a grant program not yet authorized by law and subject to a point of order. i look forward to working with the house veterans afairs committee and the appropriation committees in making this funding a reality for our community provider in the future. the veterans in my district new york mecken lerg davidson, and guilford county have noted they have difficulties finding and accessing service available to them and their families. there's more service-- as more service men and women come home from serving overseas, congress must support innovation and local solutions to providing
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services for our nation's veterans. i thank the chairman and ranking member for allowing me to present my amendment and i ask unanimous consent that it be withdrawn. the chair: without objection, the amendment is withdrawn. mr. dent: i withdraw the point of order. the chair: the amendment is withdrawn. point of order is withdrawn. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. rothfus, seek recognition? mr. rothfus: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number two offered by mr. rothfus of pennsylvania. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from pennsylvania and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. rothfus: i rise today to stand with our nation's veterans and their families. we owe these brave individuals and their loved ones a debt that
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can never be repaid. when our nation called, they answered. they serve bravely in theaters around the world, kept us safe and helped spread american values and the freedoms we hold dear. our veterans made unimaginable sacrifices to their health, to their well being and to their families. they fulfilled their commitment to our great nation and we must now uphold the commitments we made to them. it is for that reason that i rise in strong support of the bill under consideration today and why this amendment is so important. for the last two years i have offered this amendment with the same simple message. v.a. senior executives need to take responsibility, fix the problems and do their jobs. as public servants, these senior executives have a solemn obligation to ensure veterans receive the respect, support and care they have earned. but one only needs to take a quick survey of the tremendous investigative work that chairman miller, congressman mike coffman and the rest of my colleagues on
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the veterans affairs committee have been doing to see that despite our efforts to reform and improve the agency culture at the v.a., little to nothing has changed. the v.a. is still failing veterans in pennsylvania and across the country. veterans still have difficulty accessing care claims and appeals are still back -- back logged, whistleblowers are still being retaliated against and reckless, wasteful spending is still happening. recently there was an information at the philadelphia office after receiving complaints that there was data manipulation and management was mistreating and retaliating against staff. the i.g. confirmed and found tens of thousands of unanswered veteran inquiries. many of us are also familiar with the v.a. hospital project in aurora, colorado. over a decade ago, veterans were promised a new medical facility yet due to gross mismanagement, the project is behind ski july and will cost taxpayers more
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than $1 million over budget. to his credit, secretary mcdonald has publicly recognized many of his department's failings, has spoken of increased transparency and acknowledges a wholesale culture change will be necessary but this hasn't yet occurred and accountability is certainly still lacking. to date only a few senior executive who was been found responsible have actually been terminated. some have been placed on extended paid leave, some reassigned while others have been promoted. in fiscal year 2013, the v.a. shelled out $2.8 million in bonuses solely to executives, an increase from the previous year when the agency paid out $.3 million. i've maintained that taxpayer funded bonuses to seenor executives of an organization with this abysmal performance record is ridiculous. these dollars would be better spent providing veterans with the first rate service and care they deserve. that's why i'm directing that none of the funds appropriated may be used to pay for senior
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executive bonuses. the amendment was adopted the last two years and was inclued in bills that passed out of this chamber with wide, bipartisan support. congress certainly has an important role to play in reforming the v.a. we need to continue our oversight activities and pass the reforms included in bills brought to the floor by chairman miller and the veterans affairs committee. while we do that, we need to ensure that not a single dime is spent on paying bonuses to senior executives until problems at the v.a. are fixed. i'd like to thank chairman fitzpatrick and -- chairman miller and representatives for their support. i yield. mr. dent: i rise in support of the amendment. the gentleman's amendment is the most comprehensive i would encourage other members to join with mr. rothfus rather than offer their own amendments. we have all certainly been outraged by the behavior of some
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v.a. employees and the consequences of the -- for veterans health and well being resulting from incompetence and deception. a ban on all senior executive service performance bonuses is need -- is a needed wakeup call to the bureaucracy which as we've seen needs to change its culture to ensure veterans' needs are the priority. i yield back and support the amendment. mr. rothfus: i thank the chairman and yield my remaining time to mr. crawford. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for 45 seconds. mr. crawford: i rise in support of the amendment. just last year the house voted unanimously to strip out funding for bonuses for senior executives at the v.a. because we were appalled. even though i opposed the legislation, both chambers vowed to reinstate the bonuses, some of these people are the people who contributed to the plight of our v.a. hospital we feel can't allow this negative behavior to impact the care of those who
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sacrificed so much. no award should be reinstated until significant improvements are made. i want to make this point. in my home state of arkansas $8 million of federal funds were used to build solar panels in v.a. parking lot but they sit unplugged an inoperable for years and some are being torn down to make room for a parking garage that they knew in advance was coming yet they spent the money recklessly. that's the type of poor planning behavior that shouldn't be rewarded. this maybes sure no funds in the milcon appropriations act are used to pay performance rewards to v.a. senior officials and i encourage its passage and yield back. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. does the gentleman from georgia wish to rise in opposition in mr. bishop: i claim time in opposition. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. bishop: mr. chairman we are all outraged because of the claims back log and the instances of poor quality health services. the current claims backlog is unacceptable. there's no question the v.a. has
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struggled to successfully -- successfully deliver one of its key missions to help with disability. however they have reduced the backlog by 44%. should we ignore that? it's also clear that some v.a. health facilities have had serious issues that put the health safety and well being of our veterans at risk. this too is unacceptable. where these failures have occurred it's hard to imagine how v.a. leaders of these facilities could have received high performance ratings and substantial bonuses. however this amendment will not provide any solution in the short-term and in fact may have the long-term consequences and compound the very problems that it attempts to address. this amendment would make the v.a. a less attractive option than other agencies when it comes to recruiting and retaining quality executive leaders and it will not have the very talent that it needs to solve the problems that it faces
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today. like the claims backlog. and the health care deficiencies. furthermore pay and bonuses are governed by title 5 of the united states code and administered by the office of personnel management. any change to title 5 to address v.a. would then also apply to all other federal agencies. attempting to do an across-the-board one-size-fits-all fix will penalize dedicated v.a. executives who are working hard and well to find solutions to the v.a.'s problems. this is nonsense. i urge all members to vote no. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. does the gentleman yield back the balance of his time? mr. bishop: i do. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the
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gentleman from pennsylvania. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentlelady from texas seek recognition? ms. jackson lee: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by ms. jackson lee of texas. at the end of the bill before the short title insert the following, section none of the funds made available by this act for benefits for homeless veterans and training and outreach programs may be used by the secretary of veterans affairs in contravention of subchapter 3 of chapter 20 of title 3 of united states code. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentlelady from texas and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from texas. ms. jackson lee: i thank the chair. i thank as well the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee. again for the work and i raise
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again, a picture of three ladies who look attractive in this picture but mr. chairman, colleagues these are homeless vets. these are vets who bonded with each other in a homeless shelter. the good news is we have made progress on providing services for homeless vets. but i want to emphasize through this amendment that we will continue to raise and focus on the needs of homeless vets. i offer the jackson lee amendment because i believe reducing and eliminating homelessness among veterans whorks who risk their lives to protect our freedom, should be one of the nation's highest priorities. i would like this bill to have it as its highest priority. homelessness among the veteran population is on the rise in the united states and we must be proactive in giving back to those who have given us so much. even though the administration has done an enormous job made
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great strides in bringing down the numbers of homeless vets, for those they bring town, for some reason, whether it is the loss of a job or medical issues, vets are becoming homeless every day. my amendment will help remind us of our obligation to provide our veterans the assistance needed to avoid homelessness, which includes adequately funding the programs for veterans administer m -- administration supported housing and as well to be able to ensure those centers are there for our veterans. today in our country we have mentioned the numbers of veterans that exist, 100,000 veterans, male and female, are homeless. 200,000 experience homelessness. in my hometown of houston, between 2010 and 2012, the number of homeless vets increased from 771 to 1,16 2. i want to acknowledge the city of houston, it has worked on the homeless veterans project, the
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george hotel that has worked on the homeless veterans project and many other veterans, u.s. vets who worked on homeless veterans project and a grant that came some years ago to the houston housing authority to work on homeless veterans project. but this amendment is to again establish in this important legislation the idea that we must fight for our veterans and we must ensure that every year we take a temperature of the nation's homeless vets, the temperature that says if it's high the numbers have been going up, if it's low we're doing our job because the veterans numbers of homeless vets are doing down. . let me thank the many shelters who are helping vets, entities that believe that cutting the numbers of homeless vets should be the end. i'll be happy to yield. mr. dent: i want to let the gentlelady know, we support the amendment, which was accepted last year.
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i know the gentlelady is offering to reaffirm the congressional obligation to provide veterans the assistance they need to avoid homelessness. we accept the amendment. jackson scrax jackson re-- ms. jackson lee: let me thank the chairman with, that let me thank my colleagues and ask my colleagues to support the jackson lee amendment, to end homelessness for our veterans here in america. i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back the balance of her time. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlelady from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee seek recognition? >> mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: will the gentleman specify? which amendment. >> it is on h.r. 2029. mr. roe: the miller amendment.
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it's the congressional -- office of congressional legislative affairs. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 6 offered by mr. roe of tennessee. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from tennessee and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the gentleman from tennessee is recognized. mr. roe: thank you mr. chairman. i'm offering this amendment that would cut $1.5 million from the budget of the v.a.'s office of congressional legislative affairs or the ocla. the ocla is tasked with being the liaison between congress and the v.a. it is their job to provide information to congress to help with case work and base information. what's unfortunate is that even after the committee on veterans' affairs investigation into the largest scandal in v.a. history continues, it is still the procession that the v.a. will do everything in its power to withhold information
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to prevent negative news from being made public. unfortunately as many veterans can tell you timeliness is not a worried the v.a. understands or cares -- word the v.a. understands or cares to learn. they assert, quote, the mission of the ocla is to improve the lives of veterans and their families by advancing pro-veteran legislation and maintaining responsive and communications with congress, end quote. as of april 24, the committee on veterans' affairs had 78 outstanding requests for information with ocla and over half of these had been pending for over 60 days. on average it's now taking the ocla 69 days to respond to the committee's request. there's one that dates back all the way to 2012. these numbers do not reflect responsive or effective communications. what's even more disappointing is that the requests have gone unanswered despite the fact that the ocla's budget has gone up by 36% since fiscal year
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2009. i understand that other parts of the federal government such as the office of general council the office of management -- counsel, the office of management and budget and sometimes even the president's own request may be delaying congress' requests for month. however ocla is chartered with being congress' connection to the rest of v.a. and as such they bear the burden of these untimely responses. the current delays in getting information to congress is not a new phenomenon. as the v.a. committee has now held three separate hear thags have exposed v.a.'s lack of transparency to congress and show that even when we do receive information we've requested it's so old or heavily redacted it's basically useless. these requests are critically important to congress' role in providing meaningful oversight over the second largest agency in the federal government. and it's our duty to be a strong check on the executive branch while secretary mcdonald is trying everything he can to change the culture of the v.a. congress must send a message that providing answers to our questions 69 days after we've
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requested it is simply not accepted -- acceptable to us. it's unacceptable to the taxpayers and most importantly it's unacceptable to the veterans. passage of this amendment would send that message. i thank chairman dent for his hard work on this bill. i reserve the balance of my time. dent adolescent the gentleman yield? mr. roe: yes. mr. dent: i rise in support of the gentleman's amendment and i certainly share dr. roe's frustration with the v.a. congressional affairs office, stalling the delivery of important information congress has requested to fulfill its oversight responsibilities. frankly, the only time i've seen that office act with lightning speed was its delivery to all members of the house last week on this appropriations bill. i support your amendment. mr. roe: i thank the chairman. mr. chairman, i would like to yield one minute to my colleague, mr. costello of pennsylvania, to speak on the amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. costello: thank you mr. chairman. i rise today in support of dr. roe's amendment to address the lack of accountability and transparency at the department
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of veterans affairs office of congressional and legislative affairs. as dr. roe mentioned, ocla is meant to serve as a bridge between congress and the v.a., to help facilitate access to information that we as a legislative body request in our oversight role. since i've been in congress and a member of the veterans' affairs committee, all of four months, it is clear that more transparency is needed. let me give you a clear example of a pending request an unusually long unfulfilled request that is still yound standing. back in december, as part of the committee's continued investigation into malfeasance at the philadelphia r.o. we requested all complaints that have been filed at this location since 2008. late last year we were told the files were inboxes ready to be shipped to washington, d.c., for our review. it's now five months later and after numerous requests, we've only received a few of the files we requested. the inability of the v.a. to provide these documents is mind boggling. i don't know how else to describe it. the bottom line is, ignoring
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reasonable requests is unacceptable. there has to be accountable. -- accountability. i urge adoption of this amendment and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from tennessee has 30 seconds remaining. mr. roe: mr. chairman, i urge my colleagues to adopt -- having no further speakers, i urge my colleagues to adopt this amendment and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? mr. bishop: i claim time in opposition. the chair: the gentleman from georgia voiced in opposition. mr. bishop: i think that the concerns raised by the gentleman in offering the amendment are perhaps well taken from time to time. but i think this amendment is punitive and i think it's counterproductive and i think it's going to make it much more difficult to get the results that the gentleman is seeking. because of that i think that the amendment should be defeated.
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it's a bad amendment and i think it will be bad for morale for the department. i think it would be bad generally for the public. so i would urge the opposition and a no vote on this amendment. the chair: does the gentleman yield back his time? mr. bishop: i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from tennessee. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from wisconsin seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i have two amendments at the desk. i'd like to take up the one on the inspector general first. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. pocan of wisconsin. at the end of the bill before the short title, insert the following, section, -- the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: i reserve a point of
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order on the gentleman's amendment. the chair: point of order is reserved. the clerk will report the amendment. mr. pocan: i'd ask unanimous consent that the amendment be considered as read. the chair: without objection the gentleman from wisconsin and a member opposed each will control five minutes. mr. pocan: i -- mr. dent: i object to the unanimous consent. we don't know which amendment is talked about here. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: at the end of the bill, before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available in this act may be used to the withhold any report of an inspector general from any member of congress in any case where the member of congress has requested that such report be provided. mr. dent: i urge unanimous consent to dispense with the reading of the amendment but i maintain the point of -- i reserve the point of order. the chair: point of order is reserved. the clerk has completed reporting the amendment. pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from wisconsin and a member opposed
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each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. pocan: thank you mr. speaker. i'd like to thank the subcommittee chairman dent and our ranking member bishop for all your work on this bill. this amendment is a simple amendment to make sure that members of congress have access to inspector general reports should they request one. we recently came across this issue when there was a bipartisan field hearing in toma, wisconsin regarding the toma v.a. facility. the veterans affairs office of inspector general had a report regarding overprescription of opiates resulting in multiple deaths in the area. and in this case, the v.a. office of inspector completed a report that uncovered these practices and they gave the recommendations to the local and regional manager. however the report and these recommendations were never reported to the department of veterans affairs secretary, bob mcdonald and the committees of jurisdictioner or the public as
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the report was administratively closed. what's more, the initial report was requested by a member of the house of representatives and the v.a. office of inspector general failed to even provide the completed report to the member of congress. ultimately that member of congress had to do a freedom of information request, a very unusual request, in order to get a copy of that report. instead it was left largely to local facilities to implement the recommended changes. without any oversight from the secretary of the department of veterans affairs or from the members of congress who had specifically requested that report. it's all about sunlight. i think we fuppings better if we can have that information and we should make sure that those reports are available to every member of congress and this amendment would simply make sure that no funds can be expended in withholding a report as this report was within the state of wisconsin. i would reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time.
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mr. dent: i make a point of order against -- the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. dent: i do make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriations bill, therefore violates clause 26 rule 21. the rule states in pertinent part, an amendment to a general appropriation bill shall not be in order if changing existing law. the amendment imposes additional duties and therefore i would ask for a ruling from the chair. the chair: does any other member wish to be heard on the point of order? the chair will rule. as the chair ruled on an analogous amendment on june 13, 2011, this amendment includes language requiring a new determination by the relevant executive branch official of the current membership of a body in the legislative branch. the amendment therefore constitutes legislation in violation of clause 2 of rule 21. the point of order is sustained and the amendment is not in order.
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for what purpose does the gentlelady from south dakota seek recognition? the clerk will report the amendment. did the gentlelady submit her amendment to the desk? the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mrs. noem of south dakota. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to end, suspend or relocate hospital base services with respect to a health care facility of the department of veterans affairs that is, one, the subject of an environmental impact statement
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in accordance with the national environmental policy act of 1969, 42 u.s.c. 4321, two designated as a national historic landmark of the national park service, and, three located in a highly rural area. the chair: the gentlelady from south dakota and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentlelady from south dakota. mrs. noem: the department of veteran affairs is entrusted with a multitude of facilities. the national trust for historic preservation has found serious deficiencies in which the v.a. operates these facilities. the medical facilities are more important than ever. we are seeing thousands of veterans returning from home after fighting abroad. the last thing we want to do is force them to travel hundreds of
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miles to receive treatment. as is often the case like south dakota. this is connected to our veterans' health and this would prohibit the v.a. from curtailing medical services. i thank the chairman and their staff for their assistance and i urge everyone's support amendment on it as well. i reserve. i would yield. the chair: the gentlelady yield? the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. dent: i'm aware of the south dakota delegation has been struggling with the v.a. determination to move it to a new geographic area. we had language forcing the v.a. to do a full analysis of the facility moving and we have no objection to including the amendment from representative noem's amendment. mrs. noem: i appreciate those words of support and it is
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important to the veterans in our state and veterans who find it difficult and now with the closure with several of these would have to travel hundreds of miles. i yield back. the chair: the gentlelady yields back. does any member wish to rise in opposition. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlelady from south dakota. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it, the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from wisconsin seek recognition? mr. pocan: mr. speaker, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. pocan from wisconsin. mr. pocan: i ask that the amendment be considered as read. the chair: is there objection to dispensing of the reading? without objection. pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from
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wisconsin and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the gentleman from wisconsin is recognized. mr. pocan: thank you mr. speaker. hopefully the second time is a charm. this is an amendment on behalf of myself and representative ellison. this amendment would bar taxpayer dollars to going to companies that have civil penalties reported in the government's contracting data base. no hardworking american should have to worry that an employer should pay his overtime or take money out of their paycheck. a small business owner, it is not a right but an earned responsibility and privilege to have these contracts. and any employer that would do wage theft, which is considered to pay less than the minimum wage to be shorting someone their hours being forced to work off the clock, not being paid overtime or not being paid
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at all should not be able to get these federal contracts. a recent national law employment project survey found that 21% of federal contract workers were not paid overtime and 11% were forced to work off the clock. 18 federal contractors were recipients of largest of the 100 penalties issued of the department of labor between 2007-2012 and over half of the dollars assessed were against companies holding federal contracts in 2012. and overall 49 federal contractors responsible for large violations of federal labor laws were cited for 1,776 separate violations of these laws and paid $196 million, yet just in fiscal year 2012, these companies were awarded $81 billion in taxpayer dollars.
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the federal government cannot look the other way when federal contractors take advantage. those who violate deserve a slap on the wrist. and those contractors who engage in wage theft should not be awarded to do contracts with the federal government. this was included in last year's appropriation. we would appreciate consideration this year to make sure we are protecting the workers of these federal contractors and i reserve. the chair: does any member wish to rise in opposition? >> i rise in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. dent: it appears to be a one strike and you're out. but this time i would like to yield time to the gentleman from michigan, mr. walberg. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. walberg: i appreciate the concern that my colleague has on
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this issue. i know it's sincere. i think there is everyone in this this chamber that has concerns that laborers, our employees individual citizens are being treated fairly and treated with respect, safety and all of the rest by their employers. we all agree that bad actors who deny workers basic protections including wage and overtime pay shouldn't be awarded with government contractors funded by taxpair dollars. that's a given. there is a suspension and disbarment process already in place under current law. if an employer has a history of bad behavior, federal agencies know about it and have the authority to deny that employer federal contracts. my question, has anyone suggested the current process isn't working?
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i don't believe so mr. chairman. earlier this year, we held a subcommittee, a joint subcommittee hearing in fact, in this relation to the president's executive order that functions to blacklist federal contractors for alleged federal and state labor law violations including the flsa. the committee received a substantial load of evidence regarding the inherent flaws of the president's executive order, which like this amendment, supersedes agency's current authority to exclude problematic contractors causing significant delays and disruption to the federal procurement system. there is agreement on both sides of the aisle, that the fsla is the cornstone of the workers' protections but the laws are outdated and flawed and for that reason, we have asked for
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consideration with the president, with the administration, the department of labor, both sides of the aisle to look at reforming and fixing the fair labor standards act that has been in place an awful long time before present practices and doesn't fit with the 21st century workplace. a report by the government accounting office found that litigation stemming from fsla claims continues to be a significant problem. there aren't -- these aren't all from bad actors, but in many cases it comes, if not most cases, from an employer trying to keep up with present law present functions, present regulations that don't even fit with fsla. so i would ask my colleagues to reject this amendment. we have in place opportunities now that can and should be used. we even have instances where the labor department has violated.
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and under this amendment that's being offered, they would be held at risk as well. it is not an amendment that's needed. it's an amendment that will disrupt the process and it's an amendment that will not move us forward and really make the changes within fsla that can and should be made and i urge rejection and i yield back. mr. dent: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from wisconsin yields back. >> i was at the hearing and i agree with the conversation. mr. pocan: the difference i understand there is a disagreement with the executive order and i would hate to disagree with the action we can do here in congress. we had included this last year in the appropriations bill, the exact same language to the best of my understanding. and i know that since then there
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has been an executive order that we are trying to have a conversation with the executive branch about. however it is not fair to the contractors who abide by the law that when you bid against someone who doesn't abide by the law because they are short changing their employees, that is an unfair practices. we should be protecting those good contractors and the employees who don't get their fairway. and despite any disagreement we might have with the executive branch, i think we should stand up for those workers and good contractors. i have been in business for 28 years as a small business owner. i know when i bid on something, i know what is an even playing field. and we aren't making a fair playing field when you have this number of people who are getting violations and getting federal contracts and getting a slap on the hand $196 million in
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penalties versus $81 billion in penalties in contracts awarded. clearly that is an imbalance and becomes a cost of business but are punishing the good workers by doing that. i would hope we support that amendment and i yield back. the chair: jatching wisconsin yields back. -- the gentleman from wisconsin yields back. mr. dent: i do have concerns about the amendment. there is agreement that the fsla is the cornstone of protections but the protections are outdated. a report by the g.a.o. that litigations contain to be a significant problem. these aren't bad actors. they are tripped by an overcomplex regulatory structure. so i urge opposition. i yield back.
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the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from wisconsin. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the noes have it. the amendment is not agreed to. mr. pocan: i ask for a recorded vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6, rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from wisconsin will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. >> amendment number 5 printed in the congressional record offered by mr. ratcliffe of texas. the chair: the chair recognizes chairman -- the gentleman from texas. mr. ratcliffe: i thank the chairman and ranking member. i'm grateful for the support of congressman hurd for offering
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this bipartisan amendment one which would prohibit any funds made available in this act from being used to propose or execute a new or additional round of brac. mr. chairman, i'm honored to represent the 4th congressional district of texas home to red army deepo. the deepo community has weathered changes over the years, their commitment to mission has remained the same. it is on each of the vehicles there that says, we deepo is a job creator in northeast texas and critical component of our national defense. mr. chairman, in this fiscal environment, we need to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars and focus our resources on focusing on military
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readiness. having another round of brac won't achieve this goal. the government accountability office reports that the last round of brac in 2005 cost $31. billion which was 67% more than the original cost estimate and the expected savings from the last round of brac was 73% less than was advertised. starting another round of brac would increase our vulnerability in the face of the critical threats facing our nation. i thank my colleagues and yield -- mr. dent: i support the amendment and i yield back. mr. ratcliffe: i yield to mr. mcarthur from new jersey. it was
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included in the president's budget and here we are today. along with the gentleman from texas, i'm bringing this amendment and fighting against it for two reasons. first, braque is not cost effective. as was mentioned, the 2005 bureaucratic was supposed to cost $21 billion. mr. macarthur: just a few years later it's sky ronthed to $35 million. reduced by 73%. it cost the taxpayer more and saved them less and what's more the department of defense won't even recoup its upfront costs until 2018. 13 years after it started. second i oppose brac because it destroys local economies. i know this all too well as fort month moth in my home
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state was shuttered in 2005. that area is still recovering from the loss. my district is home to joint base ma gire which is responsible for 105,000 local jobs in southern new jersey. it's a $7 billion impact on just one local community and like so many other military bases around the country it's the backbone of our community. if it closed the area would be devastated. spending more, saving less ruining local economies and reducing our military capability should not be done based on what we know today. in closing, i urge passage of this amendment and i yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from texas, mr. herd. the chair: the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: i'm proud to co-sponsor this amendment along my colleague from texas, and my colleague from new jersey. government action that boasts
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-- that both wastes the taxpayer dollars and hurts local economies doesn't make sense. especially when the same action negatively impacts national security. but that's precisely what another round of base realignments and disclosures would do. the air force base in dell rio, texas, in the 23rd congressional district of texas, is responsible for training more air force pilots than any other base in the world. it is an integral component of -- component of our nation's military readiness and it's a vital part of the economy and community. yet every year they wait to see if the powers that be up here have decide to put the air force base back on the chopping block. devastating del rio and endangering our nation's air superiority. i encourage my colleagues to support this amendment which will prohibit funds from being used to propose, plan or execute another round of brac closures. protecting our military readiness in communities such as del rio is vital. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields
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back the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas' time has expired. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from florida seek recognition? mr. grayson: i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. grayson of florida. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following. section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to enter -- mr. grayson: i offer you to wave the -- waive the reading of the amendment. the chair: the gentleman from florida and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida. mr. grayson: thank you mr. chairman. this amendment is identical to other amendments that were inserted by voice vote into every appropriations bill that
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was considered under an open rule during the 113th congress. my amendment expands the list of parties with whom the federal government's prohibited from contracting due to serious misconduct on the part of the contractors. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. grayson: i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from florida. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it, the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: has the gentleman sent his amendment to the desk? will the gentleman bring the amendment up to the desk?
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mr. dent: i reserve a point of order on the gentleman's amendment. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. herd of texas. at the end of the billering before the short title, insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used in contravention of subtitle d of title 8 of the carl lesk be and howard p. buck mckeon national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2015. the chair: does the gentleman from pennsylvania reserve a point of order? reservation is withdrawn. pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from texas and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas. mr. hurd: thank you mr. chairman. one thing we can all agree on is our veterans deserve better. for far too long our nation's veterans have failed to receive the health care they've earned and the health care they've needed. and one of the reasons is due to the v.a.'s inability to join
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the 21st century when it comes to information technology. something as simple as allowing a veterans medical records to be available digitally to the health care providers shouldn't be something beyond the capabilities of the greatest nation in the world. my amendment ensures the department of veterans affairs and their chief information officer will take the appropriate steps and get the v.a. moving in the right direction. it will create accountability with their acquisition and use of information technology. let's do what's right and make sure the v.a. is using the right technology to ensure that our veterans are getting timely, quality care. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. hurd: i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from texas. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from tennessee seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk -- will the gentleman from texas bring the amendment to the desk? tennessee. the chair apologizes. for the mistake. the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. roe of tennessee. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to pay an award or bonus under chapter 45 or 53 of title 5, united states code, to any employee of the office of construction and facilities management of the department of veterans affairs. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman from tennessee, and a member -- tennessee and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from tennessee. mr. roe: thank you, mr. chairman. i'm offering an amendment that
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would prevent bonuses from being awarded to the branch of the department of veterans affairs in charge of all construction projects costing more than $10 million and which is perhaps the least deserving of performance bonuses in the entire agency. in january the house veterans' affairs committee held a hearing to examine the enormous shortcomings of this office. we found that construction of a v.a. hospital in denver, aurora, to be specific, is projected to outpace the budget by $1 billion. this project started supposedly in 2010, was supposed to be completed in 2013. the original budget was $600 million with a $10 million changeover. now they estimate the completion date is 2017. mr. chairman, the romans built the colosseum in eight years. i don't think they were $1 billion over budget. that's $1,700 a square foot to build this hospital.
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can you imagine how many veterans the v.a. could have treated with $1 billion? that's a thousand million dollars. how many doctors and nurses could have been hired with $1 billion at the v.a. office of construction -- that the v.a. office of construction has set fire to. the answer is a lot. the denver project if it was just it, that would be fine. but it's not an isolated incident. in orlando a project estimated to cost $254 million is almost five years behind schedule and projected to be $372 million over budget. that's 143% overrun. in new orleans a major hospital being built to replace a v.a. facility lost to hurricane katrina was initially estimated to cost $625 million and is just over halfway completed, running 66% over budget at a cost of a whopping $1,0
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5,000,000. and in lige, a hospital initially projected to cost $325 million, is almost complete after being delayed for more than seven years coming in $260 million over budget. these four projects alone have wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer money and delayed the delivery of health care to veterans for almost 14 years. if this is the performance we should expect, v.a. really has no business being in the construction industry. my friend, congressman congress land -- coffman, would place the responsibility of any further future v.a. construction projects over $10 million in the hands of the army corps of engineers. who have a great track record, i might add. i hope they were able to consider an approach like mr. coffman's and clean up this mess once and for all.
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it's critical that we send a message that business as usual cannot be tolerated. the v.a. branch responsible for these cost overruns and delays should not have jobs in the construction realm, much less receive performance bonuses. this amendment would see that the taxpayers do not pay performance bonuses to an office that has caused more harm than good. i urge adoption of this amendment mr. chairman, and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? mr. bishop: i claim time in opposition although i do not oppose the gentleman's amendment. the chair: without objection, the gentleman is recognized. mr. bishop: i think we're all very, very disturbed by what has happened with denver and we're also disturbed about the practices of the construction office. i just wanted to take this opportunity to maybe kind of clarify what has happened in response to try to mitt dwate gate the situation.
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-- mitt quation the -- mitigate the situation. in february it was announced of the restructuring of the office having them report directly to the deputy secretary through the office of management. the v.a. also initiated an administrative investigative board in january to find the truth and to document the misconduct on the project. secretary gibson has included the v.a. office of general counsel in the review and the administrative investigative board is expected to complete its review and make recommendations to the deputy secretary this month. additionally, the u.s. corps of engineers is conducting a separate review of the v.a.'s construction office to evaluate the structure and the processes so that changes can be made in the future. so i just thought that the record ought to be set straight
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, that everyone is disgusted with the way that this project -- these projects have been handled and that we are taking steps and the department is taking steps to make sure that this bad situation is corrected. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from tennessee is recognized. mr. roe: thank you, mr. chairman. i would say, and i agree with that, i'm on the veterans' affairs committee, i've been involved in four hospitals being built in my hometown. all came in on budget, on time, under budget. when you have a bank, a lender lending you money, they will stop you from going this much over budget. that's exactly what we didn't have here. we had people -- i cannot imagine spending $1 billion more to build a facility and then maybe offering someone a bonus. there are some measures being put in right now, but right now i think this -- and appreciate the gentleman not objecting to
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this amendment. we need to make sure this never happens again, to waste the taxpayers money with that i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from tennessee. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from ohio seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. stivers of ohio. at the end of the bill, before the short title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to pay the salary of any employee of the department of veterans affairs who is a member of an amputee clinic team as described in bha hand book 1173.3 dated june 4 2004. and who is not credentialed in accordance with v.h.a. directive 2012-030 issued on
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october 11 2012. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from ohio and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio. . mr. stivers: i rise in support of my amendment that those responsible for caring for our veterans are qualified to perform the duties entrusted to them. this february, the affiliate in columbus, ohio exposed flaws in the clinic. the story revealed that dozens of veterans, possibly many more who have not come forward received ineffective care by uncertified doctors. one was told that his fitting was supposed to be painful. after several unsuccessful visits, he turned to a non-v.a.
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provider, where he was provided with successful, pain-free fitting. the v.a. does claim to be following a credentialing directive 2012-30. i will be introducing legislation to address this issue, but this amendment would force the v.a. to honor its word to make sure no salaries are paid. our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices for our country and they deserve the best. thank you, mr. chairman. i will yield. mr. dent: we support the amendment. yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman reserves. any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment?
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the gentleman from ohio is recognized. mr. stivers: i yield back. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from ohio. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from alabama seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. byrne of alabama. none of the funds made available by this act may be used to transfer any funds from the veterans fund established by section 802 of the veterans access choice and accountability act. public law 113-46. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman from alabama and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from alabama.
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mr. byrne: i'm offering a clarifying amendment that veterans have the choices when seeking medical care. in addition to many important reforms rnings this bill created the v.a. choice program. veterans who are experiencing wait times of 30 days can seek private care. this was great news for veterans all across the nation who have been stuck in a backlog or who live a significant distance. i praise this legislation as a major step forward. unfortunately due to a self-serving interpretation, the v.a. has put up barriers that restrict veteran access to private care. they calculated the 40-mile requirement in a straight line or as the crow flies instead of calculating based on driving distance.
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from pushback, the v.a. changed the interpretation to driving distance. i applaud the v.a. for making that change. but they are still misinterpreting the law. they say if they live 40 miles from a v.a. facility of any kind then they are not eligibility for any private care. we have a v.a. outpatient clinic in mobile that only provides minimal services but the v.a. claims since that clinic is there our veterans cannot seek private care even if the service they need is not provided by the local clinic. that is frustrating because mobile is home to a number of large first-class hospitals which could provide adequate care. if a veteran needed orthopedic surgery, he would have to travel to biloxi, even though he could
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get it done in his hometown. that is not how the legislation was intended to work. recently, v.a. secretary asked congress for the ability to shift money away from the v.a. choice program into other accounts. i'm disappointed that the secretary would already be giving up on this program while still in its infancy. one of the biggest obstacles to the program's success is the v.a.'s self-serving interpretation. my amendment would clarify that the v.a. cannot move money out of the choice program account. we need to give this program time to work and allow veterans access to private care instead of forcing them to travel hundreds of miles to receive care. i have introduced stand-alone legislation which is supported by republicans and democrats from 15 different states that would correct the v.a.'s interpretation and make clear that veterans are eligible to
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private care when they live more than 40 miles from a v.a. facility that provides the care that a veteran needs. i'm optimistic that the house will act. i urge my colleagues to support my amendment, prevent the v.a. from transferring funds from the choice program and give veterans the choice they need when seeking medical treatment. and i reserve. the chair: any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? the gentleman from alabama is recognized. mr. byrne: i yield back. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from alabama. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the ayes have it and the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. gosar of arizona, at the end of the bill before the short
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title insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to, one, carry out the memorandum from the veterans benefit administration known as fast letter 13-10 shoed on may 20, 2013 or two, create or maintain any patient recordkeeping system other than those currently approved by the department of veterans affairs central office in washington, d.c.,. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman from arizona and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona. mr. gosar: last year in the midst of the explosive allegations about the phoenix v.a. keeping unofficial records of claims, i offered a similar amendment to prohibit funds being used to create or maintain unofficial recordkeeping systems at the department of veterans affairs. i'm proud to offer this policy
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with the support of my friend and colleague from georgia. many whistleblowers came forward that the phoenix veterans affairs health care system had been using record request to talk about wait times. some employees within the v.a. received bonuses. it is unfortunate that over the past year, these allegations have become substantiated. recently an inspector general's investigation uncovered memos from v.a. leadership encouraging this type of behavior. this is outrageous. the memo i speak of is the fast letter 1310 and was handed down from the director to the philadelphia regional v.a. office. i'm appalled but not totally
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surprised. i have said this before but sad we have to pass amendments to prevent this type of behavior. when government bureaucrats don't use common sense congress must address these issues. this practice must be prevented in the future. this amendment would prohibit the altering of wait-time data. we should have only one uniform recordkeeping system in the v.a. to provide accountability and uniformity. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment. i thank my colleague and -- chairman and ranking member. mr. dent: i don't think any of us want to allow v.a. funds to be used in any way that would falsify claims on the backlog record. mr. gosar: i yield to mr.
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carter. the chair: the gentleman from georgia is recognized. mr. carter: veterans continue to be one of the most neglected groups in our country. they have sacrificed our lives. yet we have people in the v.a. system that disregard these men and women. as my colleague from arizona mentioned this false guidance is wrong and completely disrespectful. the memo that was issued by the v.a. known as fast letter 1310 was an attempt to make bureaucrats appear they were delivering services and bets fits to veterans. some v.a. offices were eliminating the backlog of benefit claims with the stroke of a pen. just because you lie about it does not make the problem disappear. they disregarded every performance measure. mr. speaker i believe this brings up a large point and that
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problems within the federal civil system and as an employee within the v.a. stated, the dysfunctional culture of management corruption. for the time being we must address this issue. i join my colleague in offering this amendment. we must care for our veterans in a timely and effective manner. i urge my colleagues to support this amendment. and i yield back. the chair:. the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from arizona is recognized. mr. gosar: i yield back. the chair: does any member wish to rise in opposition to the amendment. the question is the amendment. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from arkansas seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. hill of arkansas at the end of the bill before the short
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title add the following new section, section 5, none of the funds made available by this act may be used by the department of veterans affairs to carry out any new project under the project's green management programs. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from arkansas and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from arkansas. mr. hill: in 2012, $8 million was designed to design a system at the john mcclellan center in little rock arkansas. two years since that activation was to begin operating. however reports in our local media have indicating it is not functioning and not operational.
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further, sections of the solar panels for this system are being torn down in order to be relocated to make way for a parking deck that was planned before the solar panels were begun their installation. many questions remain unanswered about this project and when the v.a. plans to fully implement this proposed coast--- cost saving system. i found a list of 40 key energy projects that are designated work in progress by the v.a., hundreds of key renewable energy programs. some of these date back to 2010 and yet they have not been completed and not made operational. there are over 90 solar projects that have been funded under this program and 198 projects funded under the v.a.'s green management program. some of these projects individually have cost the taxpayers up to $20 million.
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the little rock project is only projected to save $150,000 annually in energy costs which makes the payback on that energy investment some 50 years. on april 8, i sent a letter to the secretary asking for answers on these solar systems and little rock particularly and relocation of the panels at the facility and activation date. senator boozman have called for an investigation into the key renewable energy program and ensure that tax theirs' hard-earned dollars are safeguarded. this amendment would prevent any new funding for these projects this fiscal year. allowing congress to conduct oversight in allowing the v.a. to ensure that this program is
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effective. it is essential we gland accountability and transparency. i urge the passage of this amendment. and i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. -- the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek opposition? mr. dent: i rise reluctantly in opposition to the amendment. i feel the gentleman's amendment is a bit too broad overly broad in my view. i understand the gentleman's frustration with the v.a. in getting the solar project up and running. i support the inspector general's report. but budgeting at $86 million for 2016 would have the block of reducing energy consumption. i would respectfully suggest
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that maybe the gentleman would consider withdrawing this amendment and work with him in getting this amendment in a better form that we might be able to support. i put that out there for his consideration. . the chair: the gentleman from arkansas is recognized. mr. hill: thank you mr. chairman, for your comments. i appreciate your consideration. i'd be happy to work with the gentleman to revise my amendment. mr. dent: thank you. mr. hill: i yield back. the chair: does the gentleman withdraw? mr. bishop: i withdraw my amendment and yield back the balance of my time. the chair: without objection the amendment is withdrawn. mr. bishop: move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. bishop: i just want to speak to this amendment. mr. chairman, the v.a. manage
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am the program is a sustainability program that integrates energy and water conservation, environmental compliance vehicle fleet management, sustainable buildings in operation, greenhouse gas management and climate change adaptation. since its inception in 2007, the v.a. green management program was re-- has reduced v.a.'s energy costs from $504 million in 2010 to $459 million in 2014. despite significant growth in mission. additionaly, the green management program was put in place energy performance contracts requiring no appropriated funds that will save v.a. over $9 million annually. other significant achievements include reduce v.a. energy use per square foot by 21% since 2003, reduced v.a. water consumption per square foot by 2% since 2007, increased v.a.'s
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vehicle fleet to 55% alternativetively fueled vehicles and reduced v.a. generated greenhouse gases 12% since the 2008 baseline. in the absence of the green management program funding, a number of programs, processes and projects will not be carried out. these activities save taxpayers significant amounts of money, improve indoor and outdoor environments at v.a. facilities for the benefits of veterans, for businesses, employees and surrounding communities, and helps assure the v.a. compliance with federal laws. regulations, with executive orders presidential memoranda. i would urge members to poe owes and i'm happy that the gentleman has -- to oppose and i'm happy that the gentleman has withdrawn. i think his concern are well placed and i join the chairman in agreing to work with him to see if we can't address those specific concerns in his vocation. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from texas seek
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recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. farnehoflte texas. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following. section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to pay the salary of any employee of the department of veterans affairs who received an unsatisfactory work performance review in fiscal year 2015. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from texas and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas. mr. farenthold: thank you, mr. chairman. my amendment is very straightforward. if an employee of the department of veterans affairs has received a work performance review rated as unsatisfactory in the last fiscal year, they'll not be able to receive a salary for this fiscal year 2016. mr. chairman, there have been all sorts of media reports about how secretary mcdonald has been trying to reform the v.a. but it's been having trouble getting rid of the bad
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apples. this is one way we could help him do that. for instance, the v.a. employees in the 27th congressional district of texas that i represent and across the nation continue to provide vital care to our veterans. in the 27th district, our local medical center's well below the national standards for both customer service and phone standards. mr. chairman, an official report from the v.a. inspector general found that about 1,700 veterans were in need of care and were at risk of being lost or forgotten after being kept off official waiting lists. schedules for the veterans administration were told to hide delays. at the phoenix v.a. official data showed that veterans waited an average of 24 days for an appointment when in reality the average wait was 115 days. that's absolutely unacceptable. the v.a. o.i.g. reported in may of 2014 that 17 veterans' deaths had occurred while waiting for a v.a. treatment in the phoenix v.a. and on june 5
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of that same year the v.a. reported they'd identified an additional 18 deaths. people are dying because of unsatisfactory performance at the v.a. earlier this month it was reported that out of 2,-- or 280,000 employees, i'm sorry, working for the v.a., only eight had been quote, punished for any of the offenses. in fact, the only person who has been fired is sharon hellmann. she wasn't fired immediately for unsatisfactory work performance. instead she was on paid administrative leave for over seven months before they finally got around to firing her. she was that former v.a. person in phoenix and was fired after what was -- was only fired after it was discovered she was accepting gifts from a lobbyist. we have no way of dealing with the problems and we're looking for a solution to this. mr. chairman, the v.a. o.i.g. found that under her leadership 35 veterans had died and it took seven months
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to fire her for an unrelated offense and the v.a. is still struggling with this. clearly congress needs to find a better approach to help root out the bad apples in the v.a. my amendment is one way we can do this. if you're receiving the worst possible reform -- performance review, you ought not to be getting paid with taxpayer money for your unsatisfactory work. i'll reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. does any member wish to rise in opposition to this amendment? >> i rise in opposition to the amendment while not necessarily opposed. the chair: without objection, the gentleman is recognized. mr. dent: i appreciate the gentleman's raising this important issue. i certainly share his concern about the service our veterans are receiving from v.a. employees. however, i do have some concerns with the breadth of this amendment. it seems, again, a little bit overly broad. if the gentleman would withdraw his amendment, i will continue to work with him to ensure greater accountability for poor
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per for marm -- performing employees. again, i thank the gentleman for highlighting this important issue but i just think the amendment is a little overly broad. the breadth is is a bit more than i think is necessary at this moment. but we might be able to work this out. so would the gentleman consider withdrawing? the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from texas is recognized. mr. farenthold: thank you very much. i understand the concerns that the chairman of the subcommittee has. the breadth was necessary in order to get by the -- not be legislating within an appropriations bill. if the chairman is willing to work with me on finding a scalpel rather than an ax to prune these bad apples out of the tree, i will be willing to me. the chair: without objection, the amendment is withdrawn. for what purpose does the gentleman from california seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk.
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the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. lamalfa of california. at the end of the bill, before the short title, incertificate the following, section, for an additional amount for department of veterans affairs departmental administration general operating expenses, veterans benefits administration there is hereby proachted -- appropriated the amount otherwise provided by this act, for department of veterans affairs departmental administration general administration is hereby reduced by $5 million. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from california and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. lamalfa: thank you, mr. chairman. first of all let me thank those that have helped with this legislation here. my colleagues from california, mr. costa, mr. ruiz and my colleague from massachusetts, mr. moulton, on helping bring this forward. i also thank, mr. chairman, and the members of the committee, as well as the staff here tonight in helping make this
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happen. again this bill simply reduces the amount budgeted for the general administration of the veterans administration to instead be pushed toward the veterans benefits administration. therefore helping to take a bite out of the huge backlog that we have of receipt advance -- veterans waiting to have their claims processed after having served. so this $5 million shift i think will be helpful in that backlog as we already know that the v.a.'s at least 171,000 people claims behind in their process. and these 171,000 claims are behind by more than 125 days. which is unacceptable. of course the v.a.'s top priority should be making sure that veterans have their claims processed and are receiving the benefits they should be getting. our veths should not have had to return from fighting a war and having to instead fight a bureaucratic at home.
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vet ransd -- mr. dent: which accept this amendment. mr. lamalfa: thank you. the chair: the gentleman reserves. does any member wish to speak in opposition to this amendment? the gentleman from california voiced. mr. lamalfa: mr. chairman, again, this will be an important step toward helping reduce that backlog and getting our veterans -- veterans' claims processed. i ask for an aye vote and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from california. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? >> i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: amendment offered by mr. hice of georgia. at the end of the bill, before the short title, insert the following, section, none of the funds made available by this act may be used to pay a
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federal employee for any period of time during which such employee is using official time under section 7131 of title 5 united states code. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223, the gentleman from georgia and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia. mr. hice: thank you mr. chairman. i rise today to offer an amendment that will help our nation's veterans increase efficiency at the federal work force and uphold the integrity of tax dollars. title 5 of the u.s. code allows for a practice which federal employees are permitted to engage in union-related activities while at work. while not doing the job for which they were hired. this practice is known as official time and it costs the taxpayers literally millions of man hours every year and hundreds of millions of dollars every year. the department of veterans
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affairs is one of the agencies with the most egregious use of official time. this agency is single-handedly responsible for almost 1/3 of all the reported official time usage in the entire federal government. mr. chairman this one agency has more than 250 individuals who do nothing but operate on official time. that is to say 100% of their time at work is used doing union activity rather than what they were hired to do, which is to help our veterans. that is unacceptable. and it costs the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. on the other hand mr. chairman, as of april 1 there were some 431,000 veterans who have been waiting for over 30 days to get an appointment at a v.a. medical facility. in my home state alone more
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than 20,000 veterans have waited more than 30 days for appointments be it in atlanta augusta or dublin. we have veterans literally begging for access to health care and yet they are being told, while waiting in line, that people appreciate their service to our country, appreciate the fact that they've been willing to lay their lives down for our country, but when it comes to their medical conditions, they'll have to wait because of lack of resources. mr. chairman, to allow hundreds of v.a. employees to give 100% of their work hours to union activity while telling veterans that we do not have the resources to provide for their medical needs is inexcusable. we need to stop this practice that allows v.a. employees to prioritize their union over our veterans. the day that veterans are put
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in second place to union activities is the day that congress must get involved and that day has come. according to the most recent opium report, the v.a. spends over $45 million taxpayer dollars every year on this practice. that's $45 million that could go to serve the medical needs of our veterans. mr. chairman, what we have before us is a tremendous opportunity to help our veterans while at the same time save taxpayer dollars and increase the overall efficiency of our federal work force. . this amendment cuts through all the bureaucratic red tape and sweetheart dealses for unions and helps oyou are nation's deserving veterans. mr. chairman, this amendment is an opportunity to put our veterans first, above special interests and i ask my colleagues to support this amendment and with that, i reserve the balance of my time.
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the chair: the gentleman reserves. for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? >> i rise in opposition to this amendment. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. bishop: i belief believe this amendment serves no purpose but to erode collective bargaining rights for employees. and it may violate collective bargaining agreements worked out between the v.a. and these employees. the v.a. employees 452,000 people and to complain because 00 of them spent their time making sure the conditions of employment is within the scope of collective bargaining agreements i believe is just punitive. federal unions are legally required to provide representation to all members of the bargaining units. whether or not the workers elect to pay voluntary union dues.
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representation for employees working their way through administrative procedures is a cost effective process for administering and adjudicating agency policies. the alternative to official time is for government agencies to pay for costly third party attorney and arbitrator fees. eliminating official time would increase costs, time, and effort for the agencies, the workers, and the taxpayers. official time is essential to maintaining workplace safety. union representatives use official time to set procedures to protect employees from on the job hazards. official time is also used to allow employees to participate in work groups with the management team to improve the processes. under current law, official time may not be used to solicit membership, to conduct internal union meetings to elect union officers or to engage in any partisan political activities.
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the notion that official time is used for these purposes is just false. i would urge a no vote on this amendment. i think that it's punitive and it has no purpose but to erode collective bargaining rights for civil service employees and i think that that is not consistent with the laws of the united states of america. the chair: does the gentleman yield back? mr. bishop: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from georgia. >> how much time do i have remaining? the chair: a minute and a half. mr. hice: i understand my colleague's concerns, yes there are 259 people who dedicate 100% of their time when they were hired to do veterans work. but there are hundreds of others
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who do some work on official time. after i introduced the federal employees' accountability act we heard from veterans across the country, many of these fine men and women, being veterans now also were and are employees at the v.a. and with one unified voice they expressed that they had deep frustration and disappointment with how they've seen veterans treated. mr. chairman, i would like to quote just one of those individuals who served in our air force and is a current employee at the v.a. he said, quote, the union is the number one obstacle to providing care to vets, end quote. i just see ultimately mr. chairman, that the choice before us is clear. members of this body can stand with union bosses, or they can stand with the people who have stood on the front line to
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defend our liberties and freedoms, the nation's veterans. i choose to stand with our brave veterans and i urge my colleagues to do the same. with that i yielding. the chair: the gentleman's time has expire. the gentleman from georgia. mr. bishop: i would like to point out that many employees, as a matter of fact i think the number is 34% of employees of the department of veterans' affairs are indeed veterans. they're people who in fact put their lives on the line and have given and served an sacrificed for this country and of course they are now continuing to work for their colleagues and their co-workers on the job in their capacities as their bargaining representatives in the v.a. and so i would point out that under the law, they have a right to do this. the law supports them in doing this. we should not interfere with that because they too, many of them, 34% are in fact veterans.
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the chair: the gentleman yields back. anyone else seeking recognition? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from georgia. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the gentleman from georgia. mr. bishop: i ask for a roll call vote. the chair: pursuant to clause 6 of rule 18, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from georgia will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from iowa seek recognition? mr. king: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will dez egg nate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 3 offered by mr. king of iowa. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 223 the gentleman from iowa and a member opposed each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from iowa. mr. king: my amendment is an amendment i brought in previous appropriations cycles. what it does is it defunds -- it eliminates the davis-bacon
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federally mandated wage scale components in the construction of milcon on this underlying bill. and it recognizes a whole series of history that's been built since the early 1930's on the davis-bacon act. i spent my life in the construction business, mr. chairman. i started a construction business up in 1975. we are celebrating our 40th year in business. almost every one of those 40 years we have dealt with dais-bacon wage scales and i have made out personally that payroll over and over again. i have also seen the inefficiencies that are created by a federally mandated -- the net effect of it is it's a de facto union scale. not a prevailing wage but a de facto union scale. it creates inefficiencies and increases and inflates the cost of our construction projects. our records over the years that i've been in business show that davis-bacon wage scales, federally mandated wage scales
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range between an additional 8% up to 38%. i bring that back to a bit of a moderate, careful average, 20% increase. so the bottom line on this is that if you want to build five miles of road, repeal davis-bacon. if you're willing to accept four miles of road, accept a federally mandated union scale. that's true with whatever else we might be doing and all of our military construction and everything else. this is a substantial savings on this bill. and i would point out that this is the last, the last gym crow law that i recall that is still on the books. it was designed to lock black construction workers out of the construction work in new york back in the 1930's during the great depression. when there was a federal building contract, the contractor went to alabama and brought in african-americans to do that work undercutting the white labor union forces in new york. two new yorkers, both
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republicans, davis and bacon, got together and brought this jim crow lou. now we're dealing with union scale mandate. i point out, i used to have this debate with the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. frank and he would say two consenting adults should be able to agree with whatever those two can do i would say i agree. there's no reason for the federal government to be involved in a relationship between an employer and employee that agree to a wage scale. we pay prevailing wages. and they're not union scale wages as a rule. but they are prevailing wages. we do that because we want to hire the best people. we do the best work we can do under the plans and specifications offered to us. government work and private sector work all together for 40 years. we're about to hear that the quality of the work isn't that and the government knows best and government should intervene between a relationship between two consenting adults and we're about to hear some kind of response on why we shouldn't get rid of the last jim crow law on the books.
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with that, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves. for what purpose does the gentleman rise? mr. bishop spb i rise in opposition. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. bishop: davis-bacon is a simple concept and a fair one. it protects the government as well as the workers in carrying out the policy of paying decent wages on government contracts. the davis-bacon act requires that workers on federally funded construction projects be paid no less than the wages paid in the community for similar work. it requires that every contract for construction to which the federal government is is a party in excess of $,000 contain a provision defining the minimum wages paid to various wages of -- classes of laborers and mechanics. the house has taken numerous votes on this issue and on every vote this house has voted to maintain davis-bacon requirements because it makes good sense.
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it saves the taxpayers money. and it's useful. last year we brought -- it is my hope we stop attacking the working class and defeat the amendment before us today and move on to more important matters. i urge all members to vote no on this as we have repeatedly, year after year. at this point, i'd like to yield to the gentleman from michigan. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. >> thank you mr. speaker. i thank my friend for yielding. we have been through this fight before and thankfully, thankfully, we have been able to prevail with help on both sides of the aisle. the gentleman refers to the 1930's. anybody who is a student of history and student of u.s. economy knows that it was the period following the 1930's that we finally saw a steady progress toward greater wage equality in this country and we saw the
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middle class emerge and the strongest period of economic growth and income equality in our history, a period which is at risk right now. so i would urge the gentleman to take a look at the period that followed the enactment of davis-bacon, how the middle class was born and urge us to consider if not the federal government, who can we expect to set the example that a decent wage should be paid for a decent day's work? that's all this law does. mr. kill doe: i support it -- mr. kildee: i support it whole heartedly and urge my colleagues to approve this amendment. the chair: the gentleman from georgia? mr. bishop: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman from iowa. mr. king: reserve. the chair: the gentleman from georgia. mr. bishop: again let's avoid including divisive language like this. this is a policy rider that's unnecessary.
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we've defeated it over and over again. davis-bacon saves the government worker -- saves the government money requires quality work be done quality labor be done on federal contracts and it pays a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. i urge all members to vote no and reject this amendment. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from iowa. mr. king: may i inquire how much time i have remaining? the chair: the gentleman has two minutes. mr. king: thank you, mr. chairman. first in response to the gentleman's argument that fair wage for a fair day's pay that's determined by supply and demand in the marketplace. this is the united states of america. on the flash card that uscis puts out they say what's the economic system of america? free enterprise capitalism you pay the going rate to get the
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people you need to do the job. i've done that for 40 years. and the quality of the work is there. and we're proud of the work that we do. i don't know how anyone argues that you ought to -- the federal government has got to intervene in setting the marketplace for projects $2,000 but not intervene in the price of gas or electricity or the price of commodities we're dealing with on a regular basis. if we're going to have a robust economy we've got to get value received for the work that's done and that value received is determined by supply and demand in the marketplace not by a mandated union scale. a de facto mandated union scale. i know how these scales are reached. i know how these conferences go. so mr. chairman, we want to save the taxpayer money. we want to build five miles of road, not four. we want to build five bases, not four. we want to put five different components out there instead of four and get a return on the taxpayers' dollar so we maximize the utilization of the
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hard-earned tax dollars that come from some of the people that are working on these projects. they want a return on their investment too. you can't argue that there's fiscal responsibility in this country if we're going to impose an additional 20% on every dollar that is spent to produce construction projects on milcon in america. so with that mr. chairman, i urge the adoption of my amendment and i yield back the one second of my time. the chair: the gentleman from iowa yields back. anyone else seeking recognition on this amendment? the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from iowa. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair the noes have it. the gentleman from iowa. mr. king: -- mr. bishop: i request a recorded vote. the chair: further proceed option the amendment offered by the gentleman from iowa will be postponed. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: i move to strike the last word. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. dent: thank you. at this time i'd like to yield to my colleague from new
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england, congressman payne, for a colloquy. -- from new jersey, congressman payne for a colloquy. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. payne: mr. speaker, i'd like to thank you, chairman dent, and the ranking member bishop for your work on this bill. and congratulations to congressman dent on the work he's done on h.r. 2029. his first bill as chairman of the committee. i admire chairman dent's and ranking member bishop's commitment to our veterans of america. they have demonstrated day to day that they are here for our people in the armed services. i would like to especially acknowledge this bill's provisions relating to the importance of early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer. the v.a. has made screening patients for this cancer a priority and i am encouraged by
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the steps that this bill would take to ensure that the v.a. continues to dedicate the resources and attention to this important issue which it deserves. almost every family in america including our veterans including members of congress, including people all over this nation, have been touched by cancer. my father former congressman donald payne, who served the new jersey's 10th congressional district for 23 years prior to me coming here and taking his place, succumbed to this preventable and treatable disease. chairman dent, thank you for your partnership on this issue. i'm looking forward to continuing the work together to advance the fight against colorectal cancer and lessen the needless loss of life. the committee report encourages the v.a. to support additional research and development in the field including investigating
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a less costly blood test for colorectal cancer. i applaud this language and i also understand that both the f.d.a. and c.m.s. have approved a new d.n.a. noninvasive stool-based screening test that is pending review with the federal supply services for availability in the v.a. health system. for clarity does this committee also encourage the v.a. to consider and review such test screening? i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. dent: thank you, congressman payne, for your shared interest in this very important topic. mr. chairman, i commend my colleague for his steadfast support of colorectal cancer. in the second leasing cause of men and women in the united states, we have both seen the personal toll that this cancer can have on family members and
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loved ones. congressman payne obviously lost his father. i lost my brother-in-law. very painful for all of us. we lost them all too soon it. has been a privilege -- soon. it has been a privilege to work together with you on initiatives to raise awareness and increase preventive screenings. this is an issue that affects far too many of our veterans. and as you mentioned, this bill takes steps to support the v.a.'s prevention and treatment efforts. the report's language should not be misconstrued as only focusing on blood tests. i certainly encourage the v.a. to expedite its review of alternative colorectal cancer screening tests, including tool-based noninvasive tests. we certainly want to encourage the v.a. in that regard. i look forward to continuing to work with you on these important matters and, again, i want to really commend congressman payne for his determination and steadfast interest in advancing therapies and treatments for colorectal cancer. with that i yield back the
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balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania seek recognition? mr. dent: mr. chairman, i move that the committee do now rise. the chair: the question is on the motion that the committee rise. those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have it. the motion is adopted. accordingly, the committee rises. the speaker pro tempore: mr. chairman. the chair: mr. speaker, the committee of the whole house on the state of the union having had under consideration h.r. 2029 direct mess to report that it has come to no -- directs me to report that it has come to no resolution thron. the speaker pro tempore: the chairman of the committee of the whole house on the state of the union reports that the committee has had under consideration h.r. 2029 and has come to no resolution thereon.
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for what purpose does the gentleman from georgia seek recognition? mr. woodall: mr. speaker, i send to the desk a privileged report from the committee on rules for filing under the rule. the chair: the clerk -- the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title. the clerk: report to accompany hose russlusion 231, -- house resolution 231 providing for consideration of the bill h.r. 1732, to reserve existing rights and responsibilities with respect to waters of the united states and for other purposes. providing for consideration of the conference report to accompany the concurrent resolution senate concurrent resolution 11, setting forth a congressional budget for the united states government for fiscal year 2016 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2017 through 2025, and providing for consideration of the joint resolution, house joint resolution 43, disapproving the action of the district of columbia council and approving the reproductive health nondiscrimination amendment act of 2014.
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the speaker pro tempore: referred to the house calendar and ordered printed. for what purpose does the gentleman from idaho seek recognition? >> mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all members may have five legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include ex trainious material on h.r. 202 and that i may include tab lar material on the same. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. pursuant to house resolution 223 and rule 18, the chair declares the house in the committee of the whole on the state of the union for consideration of h.r. 202. the chair appoints the gentleman from georgia, mr. collins, to preside over the committee of the whole. the chair: the house is in the committee of the whole house on the state of the union for consideration of h.r. 2028 which the clerk will report by title. the clerk: bill making appropriations for energy and
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water development and related agencies for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2016, and for other purposes. the chair: pursuant to the rule, the bill is considered read for the first time. the gentleman from idaho and the gentlewoman from ohio each will control 30 minutes. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from idaho. mr. simpson: thank you mr. chairman. mr. chairman i yield myself such time as i may consume. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. simpson: it's my distinct honor to bring the fiscal year 2016 energy and water bill before you today. before i go into the details i would like to recognize the hard work of chairman rogers and ranking member lowey on this bill and the appropriations process. i would also like to thank my ranking member, ms. kaptur. i appreciate her help and with it this bill is better because of it. the bill provides $35.4 billion for the activities of the department of energy, army corps of engineers, bureau of reclamation and other agencies under our jurisdiction. this is a $1.2 billion increase from last year's funding level and $633 million below the request. this is a responsible bill that recognizes the importance of
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investing in our nation's infrastructure and national defense -- defense. as we do each year, we worked hard to incorporate priorities and perspectives from both sides of the aisle. the administration's proposal to cut programs of the army corps of engineers by $750 million would have led to economic disruptions in our ports and waterways as they filled in and would have left our communities and businesses vulnerable to flooding. instead this bill recognizes the critical work of the corps and provides $5.6 billion for those activities. $865 million above the request and $142 million more than last year. the bill makes use of all estimated annual revenues from the inland water way trust funds for a total of $340 million. the bill takes a strong stand with regard to the clean water act and includes three provisions that prohibit changes to the definition of fill material, the definition of waters of the united states and the permit requirement for certain agricultural
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activities. the nuclear weapons program run by the department of energy is funded at $.7 billion which is $526 million more than last year. this increase will support full funding for the stockpile life extension programs and includes an additional $100 million above the request to address the growing backlog of deferred maintenance and physical security projects. the recommendation for naval reactors is $1.3 billion an increase of $86 million and includes full funding for the ohio class replacement submarine. this bill makes strong balanced investments in our energy sector to ensure our constituents continue to have reliable, affordable energy. fossil energy, which provides more than 67% of our electricity production in 2014, receives $605 million, a $34 million increase above fiscal year 2015. nuclear energy is increased by $23 million above last year. the bill also includes $40 million more than last year to ensure that the electric -- an
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electric grid that is both reliable and resilient now and in the future. this is a strong bill that will advance our national security interests and our economy. i urge everyone to support it and reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from idaho reserves. the gentlelady from ohio is recognized. the gentlelady from ohio is now recognized. ms. kaptur: yes, mr. chairman i want to begin by thanking chairman simpson for his bipartisan aploach in preparing this -- approach in preparing this bill. we have a good committee and we work together. i want to thank also our entire staff, the republican and democratic clerks, as well as the rest of the committee staff, matt angie, lorraine,
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perry, and in the personal offices, sara and ryan. their countless long hours, late nights and thoughtful insight are so critical to help us prepare this legislation. 37 years ago president jimmy carter, after the first arab oil embargo, as gasoline prices exploded and the u.s. fell into deep deep recession, championed the creation of a u.s. department of energy. he equated the struggle for america's energy independence as the moral equivalent of war. and he was right. he set a goal to steer the united states toward energy independence by 1985. today america still struggling to -- struggles to meet that challenge set out nearly four decades ago, reducing our imported energy dependence, curbing our voracious appetite for foreign oil and growing a diverse domestic energy portfolio that invests in a self-reliant america and job
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creation here at home that goes with it. containing our ballooning consumption topped president carter's agenda. but while he successfully redulesed consumption during his presidency, his successors lost focus. demand for gasoline increased by 40% in the 25 years after he left office, a troubling reality as every economic recession since world war ii has come on the heels of a sharp spike in gasoline prices. i have a chart here that so dramatically shows every time gasoline went over $4 a gallon, america in the late 19709s, in the early 1990's and then -- 1970's in the early 1990's and then of course in 2008 fell into deep, deep recession. our work is important. under the current administration, partnerships between the department of energy labs and automotive companies have finally helped level out demand for gasoline with increasing fuel efficiency. president carter also envisioned a new energy horizon for our nation including
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renewable energy and conservation, solar electric capacity currently operating in our country is enough to power more than 3.5 million homes on average. today 90% of homes in our country are insulated. these are important achievements, milestones for our country and america must push onward. on the critical issue of reducing foreign oil dependence president carter's initiatives strikingly reduced imports below the target of six million barrels a day a cut of nearly 1/3. but imports again after his presidency, went on the rise in subsequent decades. vast energy imports continue to represent the single largest component of our overall trade deficit. i brought a chart down here tonight that shows america's been in the depths of deficit in trade, but the portion of it that deals with petroleum is its most significant percentage and it has been for a very long
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time. that translates into millions and millions of for fitted jobs here at home -- forfeited jobs here at home, still at $47 billion last year crude oil imports were equal to the four next largest trade deficit categories. the war over energy rages on. look only to europe's compromised position toward ukraine and of course oil rich but unstable iraq. we must position our own nation to a secure energy future. . our bill's priority is to strengthen the in addition's energy foundation this bill does responsibly invest in that effort as well as in our nuclear security as well as our water infrastructure. i must ask, at what cost does our bill do this. because our bill was among the first two to be considered. there are 0 bills that will follow. frankly they were raided to pay for ours. this republican budget will mean additional funding for this bill one of 12 appropriation bills on which congress must
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act, comes at the expense of other vital, national needs that will be shortchanged as subsequent appropriation bills are brought forward new york total 12 of them. for example, our bill funds incredible advanced scientific research but does so at the expense of the health and human services bill that shores support for our students who will be the next generation of scientists. our bill provides for the department of energy labs whose new technologies will power our future. but why is the national institutes of health shortchanged in the health and human services appropriations bill? its discoveries will save and improve millions of lives. in our bill, nuclear weapons funding will increase half a billion dollars. in the transportation housing bill, crumbling cities will lose even more resources. elderly housing will remain unfunded and our poorest families will continue struggling to put food on the table. nuclear proliferation and
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environmental cleanup efforts in our bill will make our world safer. but on america's streets, police and fire departments will remain understaffed insufficiently trained and underequipped because the commerce-justice-state appropriation bill is shorted. in our bill there are no new starts for the army corps of engineers infrastructure whose $60 billion backlog of unfinished projects is astounding. but to fund the corps in our bill, america's roads will be shortchanged and remain pothole ridden. the rail lines clogs with more bridges on the brink of collapse because the transportation housing bill has been shortchanged too. in our bill the bureau of reclamation will continue to help our 17 western states cope with record drought. yet severe underfunding of the clean water and drinking water funds in the department of interior e.p.a. bill will further threaten the fresh water supply of thousands more
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communities across our country. no amount of duck tape can fix all the leaking pipes. this bill sacrifices the long-term strength of our nation by raiding other bills that are essential appropriation responsibilities. but that is the game plan of the overall republican budget that's been handed us. it's not a prescription for an american success story. the discretionary programs are too thin a reed at 6.8% of our total nation's economy, the g.d.p. only 6.8% too thin a reed on which to balance our nation's account. the ways and means committee must put its cards on the table too and open its vast jurisdiction to scrutiny, mandatory programs must be put on the table and then the preparation of america's budget will have an engine in which all pistons are firing and engaged. we want to produce an appropriation bill here tonight
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but i find myself guilty in a way because i know what's being taken from those other subcommittees so vital to our nation's future. though this energy and water bill is respectable it's only one oar in the water pushing our ship of state forward. we can't reach our destination without the other 11 oars in the water too. for that reason, i urge my colleagues as we move forward to consider a no vote on this measure and -- in hopes that a message will be sent strongly. the american people deserve all hands on deck and all oars in the water. i reserve my remaining time. the chair: the gentlelady from ohio reserves. the gentleman from idaho is recognized. >> i yield one minute to the gentleman, mr. benishek. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. benishek: i rise in support of h.r. 2028 and would like to take this opportunity to talk about the importance of investing in american
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infrastructure this legislation provides support for critical national and regional water ways. the sioux locks are a critical point in our nation's infrastructure. over 80 million tons of commercial commodities travel through the locks each year, including the vast majority of the iron ore mined in the united states. the value of the cargo traveling through the locks represents approximately 3.2% of the u.s. gross domestic product each year. recently the army corps completed a sensitivity analysis on the sioux locks and indicated they may begin a new benefit-cost ratio in the future this lip service isn't good enough. the impact on our economy should there be a failure of the lock is too great. the study must be completed. i'm confident that it will show a need for a replacement lock and construction can get under way. i urge me dore continue to work with congress in an efficient and transparent fashion so that we can continue to move this process forward and get this project going.
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i yield the remainder of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired this gentlelady from ohio. ms. kaptur: i would like to inquire of the chair how much time do we have remaining on this side. the chair: the gentlelady has 22. the gentleman from idaho has 26. the gentlelady from ohio is recognized. ms. kaptur: i would like to yield four minutes to the ranking member of the full appropriations committee, very disting westerned gentlelady from new york, congresswoman lowey. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized for four minutes. mrs. lowey: thank you, mr. speaker. i would like to thank subcommittee chairman simpson, ranking member kaptur and full committee chairman rogers for their hard work on this bill. the house republican work harder for less budget resolution was opposed by every member on my side of the aisle in part because it makes it impossible to provide the funding necessary in the 12 appropriation bills to
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grow our economy and give hardworking americans the opportunity to succeed. democrats much prefer the approach taken by the president calling for an end to the sequester and more reasonable and realistic budgeting that could help families afford college, a home and a secure retirement. the proposed funding levels for the office of energy efficiency and renewable energy is dismal, which would curtail innovation in clean and renewable energy and make us less competitive. this type of investment grows our economy and provides opportunity to hardworking americans but under the republican proposal, funding would be slashed by $166 million compared to the 2015 level. a number of other areas fall far short of the president's proposal, including $82.6
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million less to modernize and secure the electric grid and $240 million less for scientific research critical -- to addressing long-term energy needs. these levels are above the current enacted levels but by failing to address sequestration, the majority is missing an opportunity to furth make american families more secure. given the difficulty in resolving funding disputes, i am deeply disappointed that the majority also once again needlessly included controversial policy riders. an annual appropriations bill is not the place to make sweeping changes to environmental protection or gun laws. the -- despite the fact that it
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streamlines existing laws. the national ocean policy would be blocked. i do not understand how any public good is served by thwarting efficiency measures that bring together the best ecological, economic and stake holder-driven day tafment there are egregious attacks on the clean water act including locking in place the state of confusion about the scope of pollution control programs and sacrificing water quality for small streams and wetlands that contribute to the drinking water of one in three americans. i should not have to remind my majority colleagues that similar provisions have imperiled this bill in the past. the administration is once again on record with veto threats over
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nearly identical language and leading environmental groups have stated these and other riders are bad policies that will put americans' health and safety at risk. i'm truly amazed that the majority would willfully go down this path again. despite the many shortcomings, there are positive aspects, particularly the army corps of engineers. in its most recent report card, the american society for civil engineers gave the u.s. a d-plus and estimated that $2.6 trillion in investments are needed by 2020. i'm very grateful that chairman simpson included $14 million more than the current level and $865 million more than the president requested for the army corps. while a number of priorities in the bill received sufficient funding due to major shortcomings i urge my
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colleagues to oppose the bill. thank you, mr. speaker. the chair: the gentlelady's time has expired. the gentlelady from ohio reserves. the gentleman from idaho is recognized. mr. simpson: it's my pleasure to yield one minute to the gentleman from west virginia. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i was elected to fight for the people of the third congressional district. we are using the power of the purse. this bill provides full funding for key army corps of engineers projects in my district, nearly 26 million -- nearly $26 million for projects in southern west virginia. eastland, summersville, beach fork lakes, all critically important. this bill supports the excellent work of the appalachian regional commission, making a real difference in real people's lives. this bill actually adds an additional $5 million over last
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year's funding and this bill also says no to funding for the administration's war on coal. mr. jenkins: no to expanding the definitions of the water u.s., and no to new regulations on fill material. this is a good bill and i urge its passage and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from idaho reserves this egentlelady from ohio. ms. kaptur: i would like to yield three minutes to the very, very able gentleman from the state of california, distinguished member of our subcommittee, congressman mike honda. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for three minutes. mr. honda: thank you mr. chairman. this is my first year serving on this subcommittee i thank chairman simpson and ranking member kaptur for their leadership throughout this process, for the collaborative way they worked with the members of the subcommittee on this bill. i support the increases in the bill for the important investigations and construction accounts of the army corps of
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engineers, which are increasingly important for dealing with the effects of climate change and have been underfunded for too long. i hope we can fully address the corps' budgetary needs as this bill moves forward. i'm pleased that the bill includes language i sought to help us increase access to solar and other energy sources for low-income families. this inclues iness is critically important if we are going to transform to a 21st century energy economy that benefits all americans. i also appreciate the inclusion language supporting development of new technologies to enable extra scale computing breakthroughs. funding the teachers and scientists program at the president's request level is essential for programs to develop k-12 stem educators, including the albert einstein
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distinguished fellowship. the funding level in this bill should allow for continued growth of the ion steyn fellows program which brings exceptional stem educators to washington for a year to work in federal agencies and in congress, helping to shape stem education programs. there are however, damaging cuts to some programs and others funded below the president's budget request. these decisions will make -- will take us in the wrong direction. we need to boost the funding levels for renewable energy programs that are our path to a clean energy future. we also must address the shortfalls in the science laboratories infrastructure funding that we'll have for operations such as light sources and nanoscale science and engineering centers. i want to voice my disagreement with several policy riders in the bill. we shouldn't be blocking work to clarify the scope of the clean water act. and we should be fostering collaboration between the federal, state and local
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agencies and stake holders about how to share this vital resource and not hindering it. i know my chairman was faced with the difficult task and his approach in developing this bill has shown these issues which are which are important for our nation and the planet the respect they deserve. i look forward to working with chairman simpson and ranking member kaptur as the bill moves forward to resolve some of the issues in a bipartisan fashion so we can send a bill to the president that all of us can support. thank you and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back. the gentlelady from ohio redeserves. ms. kaptur: how much time do we have remaining? the chair: the gentlelady from ohio has 15 minutes. the gentleman from idaho has 25. the gentleman from idaho. mr. simpson: thank you, mr. chairman. at this time it's my pleasure to yield to the gentleman from california a good friend of mine, for purpose of a colloquy for 90 seconds. the chair:
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>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, if we continue to cut, squeeze and trim the federal budget we have a responsibility to ensure that our federal agencies operate as efficiently as possible. i know that we both have examples in our district where multiple federal state and local agencies overlap in their management authority often causing unnecessary bureaucratic red tape, which ends up costing taxpayers more money while accomplishing less. mr. chairman, i'd like to work with you as we move this bill forward to improve the transparency and efficiency of federal agencies. they need to talk to each other and work together to so that our constituents are not forced to sort through conflicting requirements. i hope you can help me with this. mr. simpson: i thank the gentleman from california for inviting me to speak on this important matter and i agree that the energy and water appropriation bill should striving to make our federal agencies work more efficiently and work together and i look forward to working with the gentleman on this issue. >> thaup very much mr.
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chairman. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from idaho reserves. the gentlelady from ohio is recognized. the gentlelady from ohio is recognized. ms. kaptur: yes. i would like to yield two minutes to the gentlelady from california, a very, very hardworking and passionate member of our appropriations committee, congresswoman barbara leefment the chair: the gentlelady from california is recognize -- barbara lee. the chair: the gentlelady from california is recognized. ms. lee: thank you very much. let me thank the ranking member for yielding and for her unwavering leadership on this subcommittee. but also on each and every issue that we're addressing in this bill and for her leadership just in general, in terms of making sure that people who have been marginalized and who really have been victimized by this terrible recession really have opportunities into the middle class. so thank you very much, congresswoman kaptur. let me thank yourself and the chair for including language to recognize the importance of
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workplace diversity in the department of energy's national laboratories and encouraging the department to develop and broaden partnerships with minority-serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities. mr. chairman, however, i'm concerned that not only this bill maintains harmful sequester levels for funding, it also continues the pattern of inserting unnecessary policy riders in spending bills including allowing guns to be carried on all corps of engineer lands. these riders are harmful and further complicate the already difficult appropriations process. mr. chairman, instead of trying to roll back vital environmental protections, we need to be proactive about preserving our environment for the next generation. we need to make more investments in clean energy, like solar, wind geothermal, we need to do this to reduce
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our dependence on fossil fuels that release harmful toxic methane and carbon. pollution and smog must not be a normal way of life for our children and our children's children. so thank you again and i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlelady from california yields. the gentlelady from ohio reserves? ms. kaptur: i would like to take -- the chair: the gentlelady from ohio. ms. kaptur: yes, i would like to yield 30 seconds to myself. the chair: the gentlelady is recognized. ms. kaptur: and to thank the gentlelady very much for her comments and to say how very much i enjoyed visiting the berkeley labs with her out in california, knowing the work that they're doing, not just for california but for the whole country. it's been really a pleasure to work with you and to support that lab and its activities. ms. lee: i just thank the gentlelady first of all, for her visit but also for really understanding very deeply what our labs are about and what
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they are really conducted, not only for my district and for california, but for the country and for the world in terms of their research. i just really want to thank you. the feedback, of course, from my labs is, first of all top market. thank you so much. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the gentleman from idaho. mr. simpson: i thank the gentleman. it is a pleasure to yield to a good friend of mine, a member of the appropriations committee chairman of the transportation subcommittee on appropriations, but before yielding to mr. diaz-balart about a lart from florida, -- mr. diaz-balart from florida, i'd like to thank the gentleman for his tireless work on behalf of the everglades. he's been a true leader on these issues and i look forward to continuing our work together to restore the everglade to their national state -- everglade to their natural state. i yield 90 -- everglades to their natural state. i yield 90 seconds to the gentleman from florida. mr. diaz-balart: i came here to thank chairman simpson for
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putting together this great bill, a responsible bill, ant again for putting up with me and working with me on issues dealing with everglades restoration. i don't have to tell anybody here that that's a national treasure. it's important for not only southern florida's drinking water but also for our economy. i want to thank the chairman for his help in the hoover dike which is crucial again for the folks in that area. again, mr. chairman this is a great bill chairman simpson has a very difficult task. he's done a spectacular job. again, thank you, sir for working with me on these important issues. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from idaho reserves. the gentlelady from ohio is recognized. ms. kaptur: mr. chairman, i would like to yield time to congresswoman barbara lee and congressman mike honda to engage in a colloquy. the chair: how much time does the gentlelady yield? ms. kaptur: i would say three minutes. the chair: the gentlelady yields three minutes to the gentleman from california and the gentlelady from california
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for the purposes of a colloquy. ms. lee: thank you very much. let me thank the gentlelady for yielding, for this colloquy. once again, congratulations on bringing this important bill to the floor. i want to thank you for the chance to really engage and for your willingness to address an issue of critical importance to the nation's innovation and exetiveness. that is -- competitiveness. that is the full utilization of the department of energy's radiation light source national user facilities. unfortunately the funding level in this bill for d.o.e.'s light source scientific user facilities would not utilize our federal investment to the fullest effect. this would lead to facilities temporarily shutting down and laying off and furloughing scientific staff. this f. -- the f.y. enacted level for this program, it was $474 million. the president has requested
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more but the house mark is $443 million. my colleagues and i look forward to working with you to address this issue and conference and with the senate and to work toward a higher mark for this account, at least higher than fiscal year 2015, and hopefully closer to the president's budget request. again, i want to thank you for your leadership and for your willingness to work with us on this important issue. now i would like to yield to my colleague from california, mr. honda. mr. honda: thank you. thank you for yielding. mr. chairman, and ranking member capture, i echo my colleague's comments and thank you for your collegial leadership of the subcommittee. funding the light sources adequately is a competitiveness issue for the nation's economic well-being. companies from my district throughout silicon valley and around the nation utilize these unique large scale scientific facilities to advance next generation technologies and to grow our nation's economy.
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other nations are catching up. we must make sure that, to make the investments that retain our leadership, thank you for your willingness to address this important issue and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from california and the gentlelady from california yield back. ms. lee: yes. the chair: the gentlelady from ohio reserves? the gentleman from idaho. mr. simpson: would the gentlelady before she yields back yield? ms. lee: yes. mr. simpson: i thank you for bringing this important issue to the subcommittee's attention and i look forward to working with ranking member kaptur and all of you to support the nation's light source user facilities as we move forward into conference. ms. kaptur: i also appreciate the members bringing this to our attention, having visited more than one of these facilities and look forward to working with the chairman to support this very worthy activity. the chair: the gentleman from idaho. mr. simpson: thank you mr. chairman. it is my pleasure to yield to a new member of congress who has been very active and been
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appointed to the rules committee, the gentleman from washington, mr. newhouse, for the purposes of colloquy, two minutes. the chair: the gentleman from washington is recognized for two minutes for the purposes of a colloquy. mr. newhouse: thank you mr. chairman. mr. chairman handford is the nation's largest and most complex department of energy defense nuclear cleanup site. i have greatly appreciated your willingness to work with me to ensure funding for this important effort. the restoration of funds for cleanup along the columbia river corridor, which is legally required and a priority for the midcolumbia region, puts those projects on a very strong path forward. i also appreciate the funding provided for the office of rever prediction -- river prediction, as the final bill is developed for fiscal year 2016 i would like to continue working with you to ensure that all of the work that the federal government is legally obligated to do is realized. i'm particularly concerned with ensuring that work is able to propro-gress on retrieving
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hanford's tank waste and preparing to feed an operational waste treatment plant. while providing sufficient resources to meet near term regulatory requirements in the tank farms. i yield back to chairman simpson. mr. simpson: i'd like to thank the gentleman from washington for his strong advocacy for -- advocacy for these cleanup facilities. i look forward to working with him to ensure that the activities at the hanford tank farm it's and at the waste treatment plant receive the funding required to move forward safely, efficiently and in a timely manner. mr. newhouse: i thank the gentleman and look forward to working with him as well as the ranking member from ohio in the future. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from idaho reserves. the gentlelady from ohio is recognized. ms. kaptur: we have no further requests for time so i'll yield back the balance of my time in the interest of moving forward with the bill. the chair: the gentlelady from ohio yields back her time. the gentleman from idaho is now recognized. mr. simpson: mamplee, it's my pleasure to -- mr. chairman it's my pleasure to yield to minutes to the gentleman from
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ohio. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. gibbs: i thank the gentleman for yielding. i rise in support of this bill, the energy and water development appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. not only does the underlying bill support funding for critical infrastructure in our country, but also includes several important provisions, a majority of members in this body are concerned with. section 105 provides an excellent back stop for ensuring the eduardo:'s controversial waters of the united states rule does not go forward in its current state. this rule is nothing more than a federal power grab for the e.p.a. and it flies in the face of the two supreme court decisions. the agencies themselves have admitted to congress in multiple hearingings that the proposed rule has created confusion and uncertainty. i want to thank the chairman for including the necessary back stop provisions that will help stop this rule from reaching -- wreaking havoc on farmers, businesses, families and the entire regulating community. this rule could potential roll back the progress we have made
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in our nation's water quality by instituting burdensome permitting costs and unnecessary red tape. another important provision prohibits the corps from using funds for open lake placement of dredge material in lake erie, unless the material is approved under the state water quality certification program. we all know the benefits of dredging and how vital it is to the great lakes ecosystems, businesses recreation and tourism. we must ensure dredge material is safely repurposed for beneficial use or placed in a confined disposal facility, if dredge sediment is placed in lake erie now this could cause significant setbacks to the recreational community. it is time for our great lakes water quality is threatened by algae and other contaminates, we must ensure we do not add to the problem. i'm also pleased to see my commonsense legislation included in the underlying bill to grant law-abiding gun owners the ability to exercise their second amendment rights when they are legally camping, hunting and fishing on army
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corps property. i thank chairman simpson and ranking member capture for recognizing the importance of these provisions and for putting together a bill that sets appropriate levels and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from idaho is recognized. mr. simpson: it's now my pleasure to yield two mints to the gentleman from new york, mr. reid, for the purposes of a -- mr. reed, for the purposes of a colloquy. mr. reed: thank you mr. chairman. i thank chairman simpson for providing me time to engage in this colloquy. through working with the chairman and others, the house was able to pass the revitalize american manufacturing and innovation act last year and the legislation was signed into law. this legislation is designed to bring manufacturing in our country to the next level. by increasing global competitiveness and training the work force of tomorrow through the establishment of manufacturing centers throughout the country. as some of these centers lie within the purr view of the energy and water appropriations bill, i want to take this opportunity to thank the chairman for working with me on this issue and to clarify that
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this bill we are considering today funds the establishment of at least one new sent that are can be coordinated with the department of commerce. and with that i thank the chairman and i yield to the chairman. mr. simpson: i thank the gentleman and can confirm this bill establishes one new center. i look forward to working with you in the future as this bill moves forward. reed reed i yield back. mr. simpson: we have no more requests for time and i would like my colleague from ohio, i yield back the balance of my time and look forward to moving forward. the chair: the gentleman from idaho yields back. the bill

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