Washington Update: Energy, Environment, and the Military

Energy and Environment: Energy and Water Appropriations Bill Passes Senate

On Thursday, May 12, the Senate passed the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2016. This bill supplies $37.5 billion for energy and water spending Specifically, it provides funding for research into wind energy, allows for the extensions of nuclear plant licenses, and earmarks funding for private-sector nuclear water storage programs. The bill is $61 million higher than the President’s requests. Part of this increase, $1.16 billion, is allocated to defense-related programs within the Department of Energy (compared to FY 2016). The bill also invests in the country’s waterways and wind power industry. Of the already appropriated funds for renewable energy, $95.4 million would be dedicated for wind-energy research. The Energy Department is due to receive $29.01 billion of this funding, $1.09 billion more than what was allocated in 2015.

Military: Defense Appropriations

The Senate Armed Services Committee convened in open and closed sessions from May 9 – 13 to discuss appropriations proposed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The legislation provides $517.1 billion in discretionary funding, which is an increase of $3 billion from FY 2016, and $587 million below the President’s budget request. In this bill, $58.6 billion is provided for Overseas Contingency Operations and Global War on Terrorism funding. The full committee held meetings in closed sessions from Wednesday May 11 through Friday May 13. Chairman John McCain is expected to release a text of the committee’s discussions and a summarized report in the near future (which, at the time of writing, had yet to occur).

The House defense spending bill released Tuesday evening boosts funding by $15.7 billion compared to FY 2016 to cover base Pentagon programs. The spending measure also reverses the Department of the Army’s strength cuts and funds a 2.1% military pay raise. This bill is also likely to contain the requirement for women, ages 18 to 26, to register for the Selective Services.

MILCON-VA

On April 13, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. This legislation provides for funding for housing, training, and equipment for military personnel and their families. It also contains funds for the maintenance of base infrastructure. Finally, this bill funds veterans’ programs and benefits.

This legislation provides $81.6 billion in discretionary funding, $1.8 billion above FY 2016 levels. Funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is increased by 3% from FY 2016 level. Additional funds are intended to increase the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of health services provided to veterans. Military construction funding was $250 million above the President’s request. This additional funding will provide for the contraction and maintenance of family housing, health facilities, and overseas facilities and infrastructures.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs also approved their respective FY 2017 appropriations bill on April 13. This legislation includes $83 billion in discretionary funding, $3.1 billion above FY 2016 levels. $7.93 billion is earmarked for military construction projects, $241 million below FY 2016 levels, but $486 million above the President’s request. $172.4 million of this funding is earmarked for Overseas Contingency Operations. This bill also increases the Department of Veterans Affairs funding by 4.8%. These additional funds are intended for improvements to health care, benefit claims, the Board of Veterans Appeals, the VA Inspector General, medical and prosthetic research, and IT infrastructure. The total $177.4 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs is a $14.7 billion above the FY 2016 level. Discretionary funds for VA programs total $74.9 billion. This legislation includes an increase of $1.6 billion in medical care funding, as requested by the administration, to improve patient access to care, and to provide additional health care services, including hepatitis C treatments, veterans’ caregiver services, and homeless veterans’ assistance.

Compiled by: Luc Montimy, DMGS Pittsburgh

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