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Sen. Alexander wants to repay ‘debt of gratitude’ to veterans

[Editor’s note: At our request, the office of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) provided comments about legislative work on behalf of veterans. We added additional details about the appropriations bill he mentioned.]

columnist--mug-shot-alexander-2017“We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude we cannot pay and must ensure they receive the health care, benefits and support they deserve, which is why I’ve voted for legislation this year to help hold the people in charge at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs accountable,” Alexander wrote. “I’ve also voted for the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill this year which would provide $110 million for construction of state veterans homes and $103.9 billion for veterans’ compensation program, education programs, home loans and vocational employment training.”

Additional actions include:

  • Voting to confirm Dr. David Shulkin to serve as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (February 2017).
  • Voting to give Department of Veterans Affairs more authority to make employees accountable, giving the Veterans Administration Secretary more authority to fire or demote employees for misconduct and poor job performance and protecting employees who report poor conditions at VA facilities (June 2017).

Alexander voted in favor of the Fiscal Year 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee in July. At that time, he commented, “This appropriations bill allocates $9.5 billion to military construction projects across the country — including $25 million for the Tennessee Air National Guard to replace a maintenance hangar for KC-135 military refueling aircraft at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville. The legislation also supports veterans’ compensation programs and veterans’ pensions. As we start the appropriations process, it is important to remember that governing is about setting priorities — and this bill is consistent with the spending limits Congress set in the Budget Control Act and the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.”

The Fiscal Year 2018 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill is currently on the Union Calendar and provides:

  • $88.9 billion in discretionary funding for military construction projects across the country – including $25 million to replace a maintenance hangar for KC-135 military refueling aircraft that the Knoxville Air National Guard unit flies at McGhee-Tyson Airport in Knoxville – and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to support veterans programs and military infrastructure.
  • $103.9 billion in mandatory funding for veterans’ compensation programs, education programs, home loans and vocational employment training.
  • $110 million for construction of state veterans homes, which is an increase of $20 million above the President’s Budget Request.

See more details at congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2998.

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