Kilmer-Backed Provisions Supported in Military and Veterans Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that supports provisions authored by Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA). The report accompanying the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill contains initiatives from Kilmer that increase veterans’ access to care and support new job opportunities for veterans.  

The report language directs federal agencies to move forward on issues cited by Kilmer and other committee members. Kilmer, the Vice Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, also successfully secured investments in key local military installations. The legislation directs funding for veterans’ benefits, programs, services to military families, and construction on military installations. 

“This bill ensures our military installations are ready for the national security challenges of the future while honoring our commitment to the men and women who serve,” said Kilmer. “If you serve this country, we should have your back. That’s why this bill helps veterans thrive by increasing their ability to find a career, buy a new house, or get the care they deserve.

Kilmer successfully secured language on the following provisions to help our region and its veterans:

  • Increase Quality of VA Care: Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to detail how the agency plans to move forward with fixes to ongoing management issues. Earlier this year Kilmer and Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) reintroduced a bill that directs the VA to deliver a report to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives spelling out the roles and responsibilities for senior staff and organizational units within the VA and how they can better work together to promote efficiency and accountability. Previously, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) agreed to a request from Kilmer to look into VA management. Thus far, the GAO found the VA did not follow through on internal and Congressional recommendations to fix the problems of manipulated wait times and management failures.  
  • Enhance the Rights of VA Patients: Kilmer secured language directing the VA to analyze the rights of VA patients in comparison to medical service providers in the commercial marketplace and develop a plan to raise the VA’s standards to reflect common practices.
  • Boost Employment Opportunities: Currently, an employer can obtain a federal tax credit for hiring and retaining veterans transitioning into civilian employment or looking to start a new job. However, verifying a veteran’s status can be challenging. Kilmer secured a provision that directs the VA to work with the state and county veteran services officers to access records to determine a veteran’s status.  
  • Help Veterans Find Housing: Many veterans living in competitive housing markets – like Puget Sound – have found it difficult to use the Department of Veterans Home Loan Program to purchase a new house. Often this is due to the length of time veterans must wait for appraisals and paperwork approval. Kilmer secured language that directs the VA to look at current rules around the program and report options on how to make it easier for veterans to use it when looking to buy a home.
  • Be a Better Neighbor to Tribes: Kilmer made sure the bill includes a provision that directs the Secretary of Defense to detail all military construction projects from the last five years where changes were requested by Tribal governments and then explain the outcome of these discussions.