VETERANS' PROGRAMS EXTENSION AND CONSTRUCTION AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 09, 2008)
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Mr. MORAN of Kansas. Mr. Speaker, I support H.R. 6832, the Department of Veterans Affairs Construction and Extensions Act of 2008. I again thank Chairman Filner and Ranking Member Buyer for bringing this bill forward today. And I also want to thank the leaders of the Subcommittee on Health, the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Michaud) and the ranking member, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Miller) for their bipartisan efforts in crafting this important legislation.
The construction authorization provisions in title I of this bill are identical to previously passed legislation here in the House, the construction authorization bill H.R. 5856, and they would authorize major VA medical facility projects and leases for the fiscal year 2009. This legislation is similar to what we have done in the past on an annual basis. The Veterans' Affairs Committee report for that bill H.R. 5856 with further explanation of the legislation background and intent of these construction authorizations.
Collectively, the provisions authorize approximately $2.2 billion over the next 5 years to improve access to health care for our Nation's veterans. The extension portion of this bill, the extension authorities in title III include a number of important authorizations. Ranking Member Buyer introduced a bill to extend the expiring authorities, H.R. 6802, on August 1 of this year, and this bill incorporates those extensions and others.
Among those that are significant and important are: Repeal of sunset on inclusion of non-institutional extended care services; permanent authority for provision of hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care to veterans who participated in certain chemical and biological testing; extension of nursing home care; and, extension of certain home loan guaranty programs.
The bill, in title III, would also increase the number of veterans participating in the independent living program and enhance refinancing of home loans by veterans.
Mr. Speaker, with House action on this construction authorization and the extension of authorities, as well as the veterans' COLA we just passed a few moments ago in the form of Senate bill 2617, the House will have taken what many consider the must-pass bills for the 2008 session for the 110th Congress. Our hope is that our Senate colleagues will take up H.R. 6832 promptly, so that we may complete the actions on these legislative items that are of great importance to veterans.
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