The House has approved a fiscal 2014 spending measure that would trim both the Dept. of Defense and Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ construction programs.
The bill, which the House passed on June 4 by an overwhelming 421-4 vote, provides $9.95 billion for DOD construction, down $670 million, or 6%, from pre-sequester fiscal 2013 levels.
The measure—the first FY 2014 appropriations bill to clear either chamber of Congress—also slashes the VA major-projects construction account 36%, to $342 million, which is the amount President Obama sought in his budget request.
On the plus side, VA’s minor-projects construction program would get an 18% boost, to $715 million, the same as the Obama administration request.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said, “We took the difficult but responsible step to reduce military construction funding to offset the increases in [overall] VA spending, but we made these reductions without affecting military readiness or effectiveness.”
Construction unions were pleased that the House defeated an amendment offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would have prohibited funding "to implement, administer or enforce" Davis-Bacon Act prevailing-wage requirements on military and VA construction projects.
Sean McGarvey, president of the AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Dept., hailed the vote, and said it was noteworthy that the 231 “no” votes on the King amendment included 36 Republicans. The 192 “yes” votes all came from GOP House members.
The Associated Builders and Contractors is “disappointed in the outcome,” said ABC spokesman Gerry Fritz.
Looking at the details in the “mil con” portion of the spending bill, Air Force construction would more than double, to 1.1 billion, but Army construction would drop 35%, to $1.1 billion.
The measure pares military family housing construction, operations and maintenance spending by 6%, to $1.5 billion. The committee says the reduction comes from savings stemming from privatization of DOD family housing.