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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jul 13, 2017.
(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)
This bill provides FY2018 appropriations to the Department of Defense (DOD) for military construction, military family housing, the U.S. share of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment Program, and base closures and realignments.
The bill also provides appropriations to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for veterans benefit and health care programs, Departmental Administration, and the National Cemetery Administration.
Related agencies and programs funded in the bill include the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; the Armed Forces Retirement Home; and the Cemeterial Expenses of the Army, including Arlington National Cemetery.
The bill also includes military construction funds which are designated as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds and are not subject to discretionary spending limits.
The bill includes both mandatory and discretionary funding. It increases discretionary and overall FY2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding above FY2017 levels.
Compared to FY2017 levels, the bill increases discretionary funding for the VA. It also increases discretionary funding for the DOD Military Construction and Family Housing accounts.
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
TITLE I--DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Provides appropriations to the Department of Defense (DOD) for Military Construction for:
the Army; the Navy and Marine Corps; the Air Force; Defense-Wide agencies and activities (other than military departments); the Army and Air National Guard; and the Army, Navy, and Air Force Reserves. Provides appropriations to DOD for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Security Investment Program.
Provides appropriations for the DOD Base Closure Account.
Provides appropriations to DOD for Construction and Operation and Maintenance of Family Housing for:
the Army, the Navy and Marine Corps, the Air Force, and Defense-Wide agencies and activities (other than military departments). Provides appropriations for the DOD Family Housing Improvement Fund and the DOD Military Unaccompanied Housing Improvement Fund.
(Sec. 101) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used for payments exceeding $25,000 for construction in the United States under a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract without a specific DOD approval in writing. Includes an exception for work that is to be performed in Alaska.
(Sec. 102) Permits construction funds provided by this title to be used for hiring passenger motor vehicles.
(Sec. 103) Permits construction funds provided by this title to be used for advances to the Federal Highway Administration for the construction of access roads DOD has certified as important to national defense.
(Sec. 104) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used to begin construction of new bases in the United States without a specific appropriation.
(Sec. 105) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used to purchase land or land easements in excess of 100% of the value as determined by the Army Corps of Engineers or the Naval Facilities Engineering Command. Includes exceptions for: (1) determinations of value by a federal court, (2) purchases negotiated by the Attorney General or a designee, (3) values less than $25,000, and (4) DOD determinations that the purchase is in the public interest.
(Sec. 106) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used to acquire land, provide for site preparation, or install utilities for family housing, except housing for which appropriations have been provided.
(Sec. 107) Prohibits funds provided by this title for minor construction from being used to transfer or relocate any activity from one base or installation to another without notifying Congress in advance.
(Sec. 108) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used to procure steel for construction unless American producers, fabricators, and manufacturers have been allowed to compete for the procurement.
(Sec. 109) Prohibits funds provided to DOD for military construction or family housing during the current fiscal year from being used to pay real property taxes in any foreign nation.
(Sec. 110) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used to initiate a new installation overseas without notifying Congress in advance.
(Sec. 111) Prohibits funds provided by this title from being used for architect and engineer contracts estimated to exceed $500,000 for projects in Japan, NATO member countries, or countries bordering the Arabian Gulf unless the contracts are awarded to U.S. firms or joint ventures with U.S. firms and host nation firms.
(Sec. 112) Prohibits funds provided by this title for military construction in U.S. territories and possessions in the Pacific and on Kwajalein Atoll, or in countries bordering the Arabian Gulf from being used to award a contract over $1 million to a foreign contractor. Includes exceptions.
(Sec. 113) Requires DOD to notify Congress in advance of military exercises if construction costs are expected to exceed $100,000.
(Sec. 114) Permits funds appropriated to DOD for construction in prior years to be used for construction projects authorized during the current session of Congress.
(Sec. 115) Permits expired or lapsed funds to be used to pay for supervision, inspection, overhead, engineering, and design costs for military construction or family housing projects being completed with lapsed or expired funds.
(Sec. 116) Permits funds provided for the construction of military projects to be available for five years if: (1) the funds are obligated from funds available for military construction, and (2) do not exceed the amount appropriated or permitted by law.
(Sec. 117) Permits the following transfers if Congress is notified and specified conditions are met:
to the DOD Family Housing Improvement Fund from appropriations for construction in Family Housing accounts, and to the DOD Military Unaccompanied Housing Improvement Fund from appropriations for construction of military unaccompanied housing in Military Construction accounts. (Sec. 118) Permits the transfer of funds from the DOD Base Closure Account to the fund established to pay expenses associated with the Homeowners Assistance Program under the Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966.
(Sec. 119) Provides that funds for operation and maintenance of family housing in this title shall be the only source of funds for repair and maintenance of all family housing units, including general or flag officer quarters. Sets forth limitations and requirements for expenditures for maintenance and repair of general or flag officer quarters.
(Sec. 120) Appropriates funds contained in the Ford Island Improvement Account to remain available until expended or transferred.
(Sec. 121) Permits the transfer of unobligated balances of expired military construction and family housing funds into the Foreign Currency Fluctuations--Construction--Defense account.
(Sec. 122) Permits funds provided to an account in this title to be transferred among projects and activities within the account subject to specified DOD reprogramming guidelines for military construction and family housing construction.
(Sec. 123) Prohibits DOD military construction funds provided in this title from being used for the planning, design, and construction of projects at Arlington National Cemetery.
(Sec. 124) Defines "congressional defense committees" to include the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and Appropriations Subcommittees on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
(Sec. 125) Provides specified additional funds to remain available through FY2022 for unfunded military construction priorities.
(Sec. 126) Rescinds specified unobligated balances from the Military Construction--Defense-Wide account.
(Sec. 127) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used for the closure or realignment of the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
(Sec. 128) Prohibits funds from being used to consolidate or relocate any element of a U.S. Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE) squadron outside of the United States until the Air Force: (1) submits to Congress an analysis and comparison of the cost and investment required to consolidate or relocate a RED HORSE squadron outside of the United States versus within the United States, and (2) certifies to Congress that the preferred site yields the greatest savings.
TITLE II--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Provides appropriations to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) for:
Compensation and Pensions, Readjustment Benefits, Veterans Insurance and Indemnities, the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund, the Vocational Rehabilitation Loans Program Account, the Native American Veteran Housing Loan Program Account, and General Operating Expenses. Provides appropriations to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) for:
Medical Services, Medical Community Care, Medical Support and Compliance, Medical Facilities, and Medical and Prosthetic Research. Provides appropriations to the National Cemetery Administration.
Provides appropriations to the VA for Departmental Administration, including:
General Administration, the Board of Veterans Appeals, Information Technology Systems, the Office of Inspector General, Construction--Major Projects, Construction--Minor Projects, Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities, and Grants for Construction of Veterans Cemeteries. (Sec. 201) Specifies transfer authorities and requirements for the VBA.
(Sec. 202) Specifies transfer authorities and requirements for the VHA.
(Sec. 203) Permits appropriations for salaries and expenses to be used for employment of temporary or intermittent experts and consultants, hire of passenger vehicles, lease of a facility or land or both, and uniforms.
(Sec. 204) Prohibits appropriations in this title other than Construction--Major Projects and Construction--Minor Projects from being used for land acquisition or construction of any new hospital or home.
(Sec. 205) Requires the VA to be reimbursed for medical services it provides to any person not defined as a beneficiary under specified laws.
(Sec. 206) Permits appropriations provided by this title for Compensation and Pensions, Readjustment Benefits, and Veterans Insurance and Indemnities to be used for payment of accrued obligations for the accounts recorded in the last quarter of FY2017.
(Sec. 207) Permits appropriations provided by this title to be used to pay specified prior year obligations. Requires obligations from trust fund accounts to be paid only from the Compensation and Pensions account.
(Sec. 208) Requires the VA to use surplus earnings from the National Service Life Insurance Fund, the Veterans' Special Life Insurance Fund, and the United States Government Life Insurance Fund to reimburse the General Operating Expenses--Veterans Benefits Administration and Information Technology Systems accounts for the costs to administer the insurance programs during FY2018.
(Sec. 209) Permits amounts deducted from enhanced-use lease proceeds for reimbursement of expenses from a prior year to be obligated in the year in which the proceeds are received.
(Sec. 210) Permits funds provided by this title for salaries and other administrative expenses to be used to reimburse the following offices, subject to specified limits:
the Office of Resolution Management, the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication, the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. (Sec. 211) Requires the VA to collect third-party reimbursement information prior to providing hospital care, nursing home care, or medical services for a non-service connected disability. Permits the VA to recover reasonable charges for care from anyone who has not provided the required disclosures.
(Sec. 212) Permits enhanced-use leasing revenues to be deposited into the Construction--Major Projects and Construction--Minor Projects accounts to be used for construction, alterations, and improvements of VA medical facilities.
(Sec. 213) Permits funds provided for Medical Services to be used for: (1) furnishing recreational facilities, supplies, and equipment; and (2) funeral and burial expenses.
(Sec. 214) Permits funds deposited in the Medical Care Collections Fund to be transferred to the Medical Services and Medical Community Care accounts and remain available until expended for the purposes of those accounts.
(Sec. 215) Permits the VA to enter into agreements with Federally Qualified Health Centers in Alaska and Indian tribes and tribal organizations which are party to the Alaska Native Health Compact with the Indian Health Service to provide healthcare, including behavioral health and dental care, to veterans in rural Alaska. Defines "rural Alaska" as those lands which are not within the boundaries of the municipality of Anchorage or the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
(Sec. 216) Permits funds deposited into the Department of Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Fund to be transferred to the Construction--Major Projects and Construction--Minor Projects accounts to remain available until expended.
(Sec. 217) Rescinds specified funds from the VHA's Medical Services account that were provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.
(Sec. 218) Requires the VA to report quarterly to Congress on the financial status of the VA.
(Sec. 219) Permits specified FY2018 VA funds to be transferred to or from the Information Technology Systems account if approved by Congress.
(Sec. 220) Prohibits funds from being used to: (1) convert to contractor performance an activity or function performed by more than 10 federal employees unless the conversion is based on the result of a public-private competition and meets specified criteria, or (2) conduct studies comparing the costs of private and government provision of certain VHA products and services without a specific appropriation for that purpose.
(Sec. 221) Permits specified FY2018 VA funds provided for medical accounts, Construction--Minor Projects, and Information Technology Systems to be transferred to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund and used for the operation of combined federal medical facilities.
(Sec. 222) Permits specified FY2019 VA advance funding provided for medical accounts to be transferred to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund and used for the operation of combined federal medical facilities.
(Sec. 223) Permits transfers from the Medical Care Collections Fund to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund for the operation of combined federal medical facilities.
(Sec. 224) Requires specified funds from the Medical Services, Medical Support and Compliance, and Medical Facilities accounts to be transferred to the DOD-VA Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund to remain available until expended.
(Sec. 225) Directs the VA to make every effort to fund State Veterans Nursing Home Construction grants for those projects included on the VA State Home Construction Grants Priority List for FY2017.
(Sec. 226) Directs the VA to notify Congress of all bid savings in major construction projects that total at least $10 million or 5% of the programmed amount of the project, whichever is less.
(Sec. 227) Prohibits the scope of work for a project included in Construction--Major Projects from being increased above the original budget request without congressional approval.
(Sec. 228) Requires the VA to submit to Congress a quarterly report containing performance measures and data from each VBA regional office.
(Sec. 229) Limits funds from the Medical Support and Compliance account that may be used for the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) Evolution and electronic health record interoperability projects. Permits additional funds to be obligated for this purpose if Congress is notified in advance.
(Sec. 230) Directs the VA to notify Congress before organizational changes that result in the transfer of 25 or more full-time equivalent staff from one organizational unit to another.
(Sec. 231) Requires specified FY2018 Medical Facilities funds to be used for non-recurring maintenance.
(Sec. 232) Permits the VA to transfer funds to the Medical Services account if the transfer is necessary to address the needs of the VHA, meets specified requirements, and is approved by the Office of Management and Budget and Congress.
(Sec. 233) Permits FY2018 funds provided for the Board of Veterans Appeals and General Operating Expenses--Veterans Benefits Administration to be transferred between those accounts if Congress approves the transfer.
(Sec. 234) Prohibits the VA from reprogramming more than $7 million in funds among major construction projects or programs without congressional approval.
(Sec. 235) Rescinds specified unobligated balances from the DOD-VA Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund.
(Sec. 236) Specifies, that, for the purposes of performing an activity or function of the VHA, VBA, or National Cemetery Administration, firms under 51% ownership by an Indian Tribe or a Native Hawaiian Organization are exempt from provisions restricting the use of funds to convert an activity of an executive agency to contractor performance unless the conversion is based on the results of a public-private competition and other requirements are met.
(Sec. 237) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to pay a bonus to any VHA employee in a position of Deputy Under Secretary for Health or higher until Congress determines that specified recommendations of the VA Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office have been fully implemented and closed.
(Sec. 238) Requires the VA to discontinue using Social Security numbers to identify individuals in all VA information systems. Includes an exception if the number is required to obtain information from an information system that is not under the jurisdiction of the VA.
(Sec. 239) Requires the VA to treat a marriage and family therapist as qualified to serve in the VA if the therapist meets specified educational and licensing requirements.
(Sec. 240) Prohibits the VA from using funds provided by this bill to organize or use groups of subject matter experts to evaluate compensation claims.
(Sec. 241) Prohibits the VA from transferring funds from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund to any other VA account.
(Sec. 242) Requires the VA to deny or revoke the eligibility of a health care provider to provide non-department health care services to veterans if the provider:
was removed from VA employment due to conduct that violated a policy of the department relating to the delivery of safe and appropriate patient care, violated the requirements of a medical license, had a department credential revoked for grounds that impact the ability to deliver safe and appropriate care, or violated a law for which a term of imprisonment of more than one year may be imposed. Permits the VA to deny, revoke, or suspend the eligibility of a health care provider to provide non-department health care services if the action is necessary to immediately protect the health, safety, or welfare of veterans and:
the provider is under investigation by the medical licensing board of a state in which the provider is licensed or practices, the provider has entered into a settlement agreement for a disciplinary charge relating to the practice of medicine, or the VA otherwise determines that such action is appropriate under the circumstances. Requires the VA to suspend the eligibility of a health care provider to provide non-department health care services to veterans if the provider is suspended from serving as a VA health care provider.
Requires: (1) the VA to review the employment status and history of each health care provider to determine instances of circumstances in which this section applies, and (2) the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress in the implementation of this section.
(Sec. 243) Rescinds specified unobligated Construction--Major Projects funds that were provided by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 and Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013.
Provides additional FY2017 funds for Construction--Major Projects to remain available through FY2022 for renovation and repairs as a consequence of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Permits the funds to be obligated and expended to carry out planning and design and major medical facility construction not otherwise authorized by law and designates the funds as an emergency requirement.
(Sec. 244) Rescinds specified unobligated Construction--Major Projects funds that were provided by: (1) the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014; and (2) the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015.
Provides specified funds for Construction--Major Projects to remain available through FY2023 and FY2024.
(Sec. 245) Provides specified funds from the Medical Services account to carry out and expand to each VA medical center the pilot program for providing child care assistance to veterans receiving health care.
(Sec. 246) Amends the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care Programs Enhancement Act of 2001 to modify requirements for the VA's program to provide chiropractic care and services to veterans.
(Sec. 247) Requires the VA to carry out a pilot program to provide educational assistance to certain former members of the Armed Forces for education and training as physician assistants of the VA. (Sec. 248) Specifies documentation that DOD may accept to verify that a coastwise merchant seaman performed active duty service under honorable conditions. Permits the individuals whose service is recognized as honorable to be: (1) awarded an appropriate medal, ribbon, or other military decoration based on the service; and (2) honored as a veteran with benefits limited to those described in this provision.
(Sec. 249) Permits VA Medical Services funds to be used to provide: (1) fertility counseling and treatment using assisted reproductive technology to a covered veteran or the spouse of a covered veteran, or (2) adoption reimbursement to a covered veteran. Defines a "covered veteran" as a veteran who has a service-connected disability that results in the inability of the veteran to procreate without the use of fertility treatment.
(Sec. 250) Rescinds specified unobligated funds from the Information Technology Systems Account.
(Sec. 251) Requires the VA to: (1) establish a demand profile with respect to each health care service furnished by the VA, and (2) use the demand profile to inform the capability and capacity of any non-department healthcare services provided under the laws administered by the VA.
Requires the VA to submit to Congress a strategic plan that includes a five-year forecast for: (1) health care capacity and capabilities to be provided and maintained at each VA medical facility; and (2) demand for health care from the VA, disaggregated by geographic area.
(Sec. 252) Requires the VA to establish uniform access standards for furnishing the following types of health care services, including through the use of non-VA health care providers:
urgent care, routine care, referred or specialty care, and wellness or preventive care. (Sec. 253) Prohibits the VA from using funds provided by this bill to dispose of certain vacant, mostly vacant, and underutilized buildings and structures until the VA submits a specified report and certification to Congress.
(Sec. 254) Permits the VA to use funds provided by this title to ensure that the ratio of veterans to full-time employment equivalents within any rehabilitation program does not exceed 125 veterans to one full-time employment equivalent.
Requires the VA to report to Congress on rehabilitation programs including: (1) an assessment of the veteran-to-staff ratio for each program, and (2) recommendations to reduce the veteran-to-staff ratio for each program.
(Sec. 255) Requires departments and agencies funded by this bill to provide an Inspector General (IG) funded by this bill with timely access to records, documents, or other materials available to the department or agency over which the IG has responsibility. Requires each IG to comply with specified statutory limitations on disclosure of the information provided.
(Sec. 256) Prohibits the VA from using funds provided by this title to enter into an agreement related to resolving a dispute or claim with an individual that would restrict the individual from speaking to members of Congress or their staff on any topic not otherwise prohibited from disclosure or required by federal law or required by executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs.
(Sec. 257) Requires specified funds provided by this bill for Medical Services to be used for: (1) adaptive sports programs for disabled veterans and members of the Armed Forces; and (2) payment of a monthly assistance allowance to a disabled veteran invited by the U.S. Olympic Committee to compete for a slot on, or selected for, the Paralympic Team.
(Sec. 258) Specifies details that must be included in the budget justification documents submitted for the Construction--Major Projects account.
(Sec. 259) Amends the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 to: (1) extend the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot (RVCP) grant program through FY2019, and (2) permit the VA to expand the program to include additional locations if the VA recommends the expansion in a report submitted to Congress.
(The program provides grants to community-based organizations and local, state, and tribal government entities to increase the coordination and availability of health care, mental health services, and other benefits for veterans and their families as they transition from the military to civilian life.)
(Sec. 260) Prohibits funds from being used to close or diminish services at certain VA medical facilities until the VA submits to Congress a national realignment strategy.
(Sec. 261) Modifies the eligibility requirements for burial at National Cemetery Administration cemeteries to include any individual who:
was naturalized pursuant to specified provisions of the Hmong Veterans' Naturalization Act and resided in the United States at the time of death; or served honorably with a special guerrilla unit or irregular forces operating from a base in Laos in support of the Armed Forces at any time during the period beginning February 28, 1961, and ending May 7, 1975; and was a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States and resident at the time of death. (Sec. 262) Permits the VA to carry out a two-year pilot program to make grants to nonprofit veterans services organizations (VSOs) to upgrade, through construction and repair, VSO community facilities into health and wellness centers and to promote and expand complementary and integrative wellness programs.
(Sec. 263) Modifies the priority rules for construction projects under the VA's State Extended Care Facilities grant program.
(Sec. 264) Makes certain veterans who received other than honorable discharges or releases eligible to receive VA mental and behavioral health care.
(Sec. 265) Prohibits funds provided by this bill from being used to:
interfere with the ability of veterans to participate in a state-approved medicinal marijuana program, deny services to veterans participating in a program, or limit or interfere with the ability of a VA health care provider to comply with a program. TITLE III--RELATED AGENCIES
Provides appropriations for related agencies, including:
the American Battle Monuments Commission; the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims; Cemeterial Expenses of the Army, including Arlington National Cemetery and Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery; and the Armed Forces Retirement Home. (Sec. 301) Permits funds for Cemeterial Expenses--Army to be provided to Arlington County, Virginia, to relocate a federally owned water main at Arlington National Cemetery to make additional land available for ground burials.
(Sec. 302) Permits funds from concessions at Army National Military Cemeteries to be used to support activities at the cemeteries.
TITLE IV--OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS
Provides appropriations to DOD for Overseas Contingency Operations Military Construction projects for the:
Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force, and Defense-Wide agencies and activities. Designates the amounts provided in this title as for Overseas Contingency Operations/ Global War on Terrorism pursuant to the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
(Sec. 401) Specifies that funds designated in this bill by Congress for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism are only available if the President subsequently designates the amounts and transmits the designations to Congress.
TITLE V--GENERAL PROVISIONS
(Sec. 501) Prohibits the obligation of funds in this bill beyond the current fiscal year unless expressly permitted in this bill.
(Sec. 502) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill for programs, projects, or activities not in compliance with federal laws related to risk assessment, the protection of private property rights, or unfunded mandates.
(Sec. 503) Encourages all departments and agencies funded in this bill to expand their use of "E-Commerce" technologies and procedures.
(Sec. 504) Specifies the congressional committees that are to receive all reports and notifications required by this bill.
(Sec. 505) Prohibits the transfer of funds to any part of the U.S. government without authority provided by an appropriations law.
(Sec. 506) Requires agencies to post reports submitted to Congress on the public website of the agency. Includes exceptions for national security and confidential or proprietary information.
(Sec. 507) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill for a computer network unless pornography is blocked, with the exception of law enforcement, prosecution, or adjudication activities.
(Sec. 508) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill for first-class travel by an employee of the executive branch.
(Sec. 509) Prohibits the use of funds provided by this bill for the renovation, expansion, or construction of any facility in the United States to house any individual detained at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the purposes of detention or imprisonment in the custody or under the control of DOD. Includes an exception for modification to the facility at Guantanamo Bay.