Thank you, Ranking Member Bishop and Chairman Culberson, for your comments and for your hard work in crafting this bill.
One of our many tasks on this Committee is to ensure the health and well-being of those who proudly serve and have served in our nation's great military, and though I do not always see eye-to-eye with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, this task is one we can all support without hesitation.
Our troops, veterans and military families deserve to have the programs and services they have earned as a result of their service and sacrifice. The FY 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is funded at the same level as last year - $71.7 billion in discretionary funding. This bill provides for the most urgent needs of our nation's veterans and active military members, and supports Department of Defense construction here and abroad.
Specifically, we're funding construction of Department of Defense hospitals, clinics, schools, and family housing; vital medical care, disability and education benefits for our veterans; and other resources for our military personnel to help advance U.S. missions abroad.
While answering the needs of our military, this bill continues to implement our Committee-wide mission to smarter, more responsible spending. Though we boosted spending on our veterans by $2.3 billion, we have held overall spending at last year's level. We took every opportunity to trim spending, eliminate waste, and redirect taxpayer dollars more effectually.
The reductions also reflect Department of Defense decisions to reduce construction activities as they assess future force strength. Though not every cut was easy to make, this cautious consideration will benefit our troops and veterans as we more efficiently deal with their needs and more carefully spend precious tax dollars.
Again, I want to thank Chairman Culberson and Mr. Bishop for their diligence in crafting this bipartisan piece of legislation. I know that you both, your Subcommittee and your staffs have put in many man-hours, and this Committee appreciates all of your hard work. I urge the committee to support this bill.