Capito Applauds Senate Passage of Transportation and Veterans Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today released the following statement applauding the Senate’s passage of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MILCON-VA) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and an amendment providing $1.1 billion to help address the Zika virus:

“We accomplished important work this week by passing funding measures that will benefit our veterans, infrastructure and efforts to address the threat of the Zika virus. As we continue to move forward with the appropriations process, I am pleased that we are doing so in a fiscally responsible way and prioritizing programs that matter to West Virginians,” said Senator Capito.

West Virginia priorities included in the THUD Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017:

  • Allows $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, consistent with the recently-enacted surface transportation authorization bill, the FAST Act.
  • Supports innovative transportation projects across rural communities through increased funding of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.
  • Includes vital resources for low-income and rural communities by fully funding the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). In West Virginia, this program provides public improvement, affordable housing and other services while giving state and local governments a large amount of flexibility and control.
  • Maintains funding for the Grants-In-Aid for Airports program, which supports airport improvement projects. This program benefits West Virginia airports through apron and taxiway rehabilitation projects, like those completed in Wood, Greenbrier and Mason Counties last year.

West Virginia priorities included in the MILCON-VA Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017:

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is funded at a record level, with an emphasis on improving backlog processing, access to care and medical services. 
  • At Senator Capito’s request, the bill includes language calling for the VA to do an agritherapy pilot program, which would assist veterans with starting farms as a form of therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • An increase in funding for medical and prosthetic research within the VA’s Veterans Health Administration.
  • Continued funding and support for the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative to improve pain care for veterans who have a higher risk of opioid-related overdose. The bill also encourages the VA to continually expand and improve treatment services, and better monitor and identify at-risk patients. Language from Senator Capito’s Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act is included in the bill. 
  • Fully funds the VA’s Office of Rural Health, which is an all-encompassing effort for veterans who live in rural areas like West Virginia.
  • Directs the VA to carry out a survey of VA and private medical providers to assess the VA Choice Program and better understand the program’s obstacles.