MilCon-VA bill provides important investments in VA and nation’s military bases, but Sen. Murray warns that more needs to be done to fulfill promise to care for military families

Sen. Murray: “We must continue to push the Administration to do more to invest in the health and well-being of our military families and veterans, so I will keep fighting with every tool I have to make that a reality.” 

Washington D.C. – Today Sen. Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that many of her priorities, including a provision to offer fertility services like IVF to veterans with service-connected injuries and significant investments in the Veteran Caregiver Program, were included in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018. Sen. Murray, the daughter of a World War II veteran and the first woman to chair the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has long championed efforts to improve medical and support services for veterans and military families in Washington state and nationwide, and worked to include these provisions in the final funding proposal. The funding bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously, and will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.  

“When we send our men and women to war we promise to be there for them when they return, no matter what,” Sen. Murray said. “The legislation we advanced today is an important step toward fulfilling that goal, but our work is not over. We must continue to push the Administration to plan for the long-term and do more to invest in the health and well-being of our military families and veterans, so I will keep fighting with every tool I have to make that a reality.”

Working with her colleagues, Sen. Murray was able to secure provisions to improve several VA programs supporting veterans in the spending proposal, including the following:

  • Extending VA’s authorization allowing them to cover fertility services such as IVF for service connected veterans, building on Sen. Murray’s years of work to allow VA to cover fertility services to veterans injured during their service to our country. (More on Murray’s IVF provision here.)
  • Securing funding to sustain and continue full operation of the Veterans Caregiver Services program and freeze reductions or removals of veterans from the program
  • Prohibiting bonuses from being paid to senior VA executives until all Inspector General and GAO recommendations to address major deficiencies at the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) are implemented 
  • Authorization to utilize funds for the continued use and expansion of the VA’s two-year pilot child care program
  • Forcing VA to finally address Inspector General and GAO recommendations related to critical shortcomings in mental health care that have not been implemented in many years and requiring a new state-by-state assessment of veterans’ mental health status to help prevent veteran suicides
  • $17 million of dedicated funding for the VA’s Intimate Partner Violence Program to help provide holistic services and support for veterans experiencing domestic and intimate partner violence.
  • Directing the Navy to submit a report on their plan to address additional costs needed to modernize key assets that will have a direct impact on operational readiness at four public shipyards.
  • Working with Senator Reed (D-RI) to help automate the process for 100 percent totally and permanently disabled veterans to have their student loans discharged.