WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week, Congress passed the 2018 Consolidated Approprations Act to provide federal funding for government programs and operations, including the military, national security, veterans benefits, infrastructure, school safety and combating drug abuse. The bill, which also boosts funding to secure our borders and enforces immigration laws by 30 percent, was signed into law by President Trump. It also provides the largest pay raise for American troops in eight years and historic funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to enhance care for our veterans.
"This legislation provides the largest increase in annual defense funding since the beginning of the War on Terror. It rebuilds and modernizes our military, and gives our warfighters the resources they need to defend our homeland and combat terrorism overseas," said Rogers, who voted in support of the legislation. "It also extends more resources to families of our troops and provides better care for our veterans, enhancing access to proper medical care and reducing the backlog of disability claims."
Bill Highlights for Defense, Homeland Security & Veterans:
The FY18 Defense bill rebuilds our military, supports our troops, and invests in critical weapons and equipment. It also targets additional funding to requirements identified by military leaders, including higher troop levels, readiness efforts, infrastructure, and equipment modernization.
Overall Defense Spending – provides our men and women in uniform over $61 billion more dollars over last year’s levels, a total of $654 billion. This is the biggest year-to-year increase in defense spending in 15 years.
Taking Care of Soldiers – includes a 2.4% pay raise for our troops. It also provides $1.4 billion to ensure quality housing for the more than one million service members using these services, and $708 million for new or existing military medical facilities to continue support and care for our troops, their families, and wounded troops abroad.
Combating Global Threats – funds our ongoing operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and supports increased US military presence in European nations being threatened by Russian aggression through the European Deterrence Initiative.
Readiness and Training – supports readiness programs, increased flight and training time, as well as depot maintenance in order to ensure that our troops and their equipment are prepared for the demands of responding to worldwide threats.
Health Care & Research – provides $34.4 billion—an increase of $300 million from FY17-- for the Defense Health Program. This funding will provide comprehensive care for our active duty troops and retirees and crucial research on cancer, traumatic brain injury, cancer, and psychological health.
Homeland & Border Security
Protecting Our Borders - Customs and Border Protection is receiving a $1.8 billion million increase in funding—which will be used to hire more agents, advanced border technology, and utilize new tools that will help stop the illegal flow of drugs and people across our borders.
It also provides for more than 90 miles of a border wall system (16 more miles than the President’s request) by including $1.57 billion for a physical barrier and associated technology and personnel.
The bill includes $655.6 million for border and port technology: communications, surveillance systems, opioid detection, and the National Targeting Center.
Enforcing Immigration Laws - Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is getting a $641 million increase in funding, which will be used for detention, electronic monitoring, GPS tracking, and hiring of additional officers to tackle our nation’s illegal immigration crisis.
Deporting Illegal Immigrants -- ICE receives $159 million to support the identification, location, and arrest of removable aliens in the U.S.
Overall VA Funding - Provides $81.5 billion for the VA, including the largest funding increase for the VA in history - $7.1 billion (9.5%) above FY17. It funds VA medical care at $68.8 billion, providing care for more than 7 million veteran and dependent patients.
The bill includes $782 million for the new VA electronic health record, ensuring our veterans receive proper care, with timely and accurate medical data transferred between identical systems at the VA and the Department of Defense.
The bill seeks to further reduce the disability claims backlog to ensure adequate compensation and care for the almost 500,000 veterans still awaiting final decisions on their claims.
VA Medical priorities - provides funding for the VA’s medical priorities, including $386 million for opioid abuse prevention, $8.4 billion for mental health care, $186 million for suicide prevention outreach, $316 million for traumatic brain injury treatment, $7.3 billion for homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training, and $270 million for rural health initiatives, ensuring veterans in rural America, and Kentucky, can receive the care they earned.
To learn more about Kentucky-related highlights in the law, visit halrogers.house.gov.