Created by on 07/12/2011

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2012 Military-Construction/Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations bill (HR 2055) by a unanimous vote. This was the first FY 2012 spending bill to be considered by Senate appropriators. Although the overall allocation for the bill was below both the FY 2011 enacted level and the President’s budget request, the VA Medical and Prosthetics Research Program was funded at $581 million, an increase of $72 million over the Obama request and equal to the FY 2011 funding level. In addition, the Senate funding level for VA research was $50 million higher than the $531 million included in the Military-Construction/VA Appropriations bill passed by the House in June.

In his opening statement at the full committee mark-up, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) explained that Senate leaders had asked the panel to agree on top-line funding levels for each of the 12 bills to move the process along and avoid having to package all or some of the bills into an omnibus measure at the end of the year. Inouye also expressed optimism that the Appropriations Committee would reach bipartisan agreements to allow additional subcommittee measures to be considered over the next few weeks. He concluded his remarks by noting that, “Since 2001, the increase in non-security domestic spending, when adjusted for inflation and population growth, has been zero. The forces driving our deficit higher are decreasing revenues and increased spending on mandatory programs.” An (audio only) webcast of the full committee mark-up of the Senate FY 2012 Military-Construction/VA appropriations bill is available on the Appropriations Committee website. It is not clear when the Military-Construction/VA bill will come to the Senate floor for consideration.