Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension Actby Representative Sanford D. Bishop Jr.
Posted on 2014-01-15
BISHOP of Georgia. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding.
Madam Speaker, the MILCON-VA portion of this bill provides a total of $73.3 billion for FY '14 which is $1.3 billion above FY '13. The MILCON portion provides sufficient funding for our military facilities worldwide, including family housing, which is adequate funding to meet their needs.
The VA portion is funded at $63.2 billion. It meets the discretionary budget request in all areas of administrative expenses, research, information technology and facilities for VA. In addition, it contains $55.6 billion in advance appropriations for medical services, medical support and compliance and medical facilities, which is $1.1 billion above the amount provided in FY '13.
The bill also takes concrete steps to pinpoint and address the serious issues of the VA's claims backlog and interoperability of DOD's and VA's electronic health record systems. For example, addressing the claims backlog, the agreement includes a 10-point action plan which we believe will give the VA additional tools to reinforce personnel resources, training and quality oversight, as well as strengthen accountability by upgrading equipment and broadening access to electronic medical records.
This plan not only focuses on increasing productivity but also on claim processors' accuracy. This effort would ensure that veterans receive fair compensation at the outset without delays from having to appeal decisions.
Regarding the merging of the DOD's and VA's electronic health records systems, the agreement makes it very clear to both Departments that an interoperable record system that actually works is the chief end goal for Congress. New health record systems is an important project for both Departments to undertake, but the effort will be a futile exercise if the result is not the development of two interoperable systems, defined as the ability to exchange computable information electronically.
Before I close, Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize our staff, Donna Shahbaz and her team on the majority side, Matt Washington on the minority side, and Michael Reed on my [[Page H444]] personal staff for all of the amazing work and time they have put into this bill in supporting our subcommittee's efforts. I would also like to thank Mrs. Lowey, Mr. Rogers, the distinguished ranking member and the chairman of this committee, and a special thanks to Mr. Culberson, the chairman of the subcommittee, for a bipartisan work product. It is a good bill.