The House, approving its first two fiscal 2016 appropriations bills, has called for increases in military construction and the Army Corps of Engineers' civil-works program. But the House also froze the Dept. of Veterans Affairs' account for large projects and cut VA's minor-projects budget.

By a 255-163 vote, the House on April 30 cleared a bill that would boost Dept. of Defense construction 13%, to $6.8 billion. The measure also holds VA's construction account for projects of $10 million or more at 2015's $562 million and trims its minor-construction program 18%, to $406 million.

The following day, the House approved a bill, 240-177, that would raise the Corps' civil-works budget 3%, to $5.6 billion. Comparing the bill with President Obama's $4.7-billion request for civil works, Jimmy Christianson, director of the Associated General Contractors of America federal and heavy-construction division, says, "We're ecstatic [about the House figure]." Within its $5.6 billion, the House pared Corps construction by $4 million, to $1.6 billion, but hiked Corps operation and maintenance 6%, to $3.1 billion.

It also increased the Dept. of Energy's cleanup program at former nuclear-weapons sites 1%, to $5.1 billion. The figures are far from final. In the Senate, none of the FY16 spending bills has yet made it through the Appropriations Committee.


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