Military and Veterans Affairs construction would face cutbacks under a 2017 spending bill that the House passed on June 23. The measure may stall in the Senate, due to Democrats’ objections to funding levels to combat the Zika virus.
The bill, crafted mainly by House and Senate GOP appropriators, would trim Dept. of Defense construction 5%, to $7.7 billion, and slice VA major-projects funds 58%, to $528 million.
Jimmy Christianson, Associated General Contractors of America regulatory counsel, calls the DOD cuts disappointing, but not surprising, because they are close to what the White House sought. But he says the VA cuts are “draconian” at a time when Congress has required other agencies, such as the Corps of Engineers, to manage VA projects over $100 million.
Congress is likely to give final approval to only a few, if any, individual spending bills by Oct. 1, when fiscal 2017 starts. Christianson says that, instead, lawmakers probably will pass a stopgap. If that bill extends 2016 funding levels, DOD and VA would avoid 2017 reductions, at least for a while.