SAC Approves Milcon, Veterans Affairs Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Fiscal 2014 military construction and Veterans Affairs bill by a vote of 23 to 6 on June 20. The bill includes $158.8 billion for military construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies, according to a SAC release. The “centerpiece” of the bill is a 10-point action plan to address the Veterans Affairs’ claims processing backlog—a reported 816,839 cases. “It is unacceptable that 530,000 veterans are waiting 125 days or more for their disability claims to be decided,” said SAC Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), in a release. She continued, “This plan is about creating a sense of urgency to get the job done and holding the VA, Department of Defense, Social Security Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service’s feet to the fire to solve the backlog problem.” Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), chairman of the SAC military construction, Veterans Affairs, and related agencies panel, said the bill “sends a strong message of support to America’s veterans and to our military forces and their families. He continued, “The bill includes essential investments in mission-critical and quality of life facilities for our troops and their families, and provides the necessary funding for health care and benefits for our veterans.”