Amendment Text: H.Amdt.1167 — 112th Congress (2011-2012)

There is one version of the amendment.

Shown Here:
Amendment as Offered (05/31/2012)

This Amendment appears on page H3344 in the following article from the Congressional Record.



[Pages H3309-H3346]
    MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES 
                        APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2013


                             General Leave

  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to 
include extraneous material on H.R. 5854, and that I may include 
tabular material on the same.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 667 and rule 
XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House 
on the state of the Union for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 5854.
  The Chair appoints the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) to 
preside over the Committee of the Whole.

                              {time}  1632


                     In the Committee of the Whole

  Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the 
Whole House on the state of the Union for the consideration of the bill 
(H.R. 5854) making appropriations for military construction, the 
Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal 
year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes, with Mrs. 
Miller of Michigan in the chair.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The CHAIR. Pursuant to the rule, the bill is considered read the 
first time.
  The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Culberson) and the gentleman from 
Georgia (Mr. Bishop) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chair, I yield myself such time as I may 
consume.
  I know that my colleagues feel the same way I do that one of the most 
gratifying, most rewarding parts of this extraordinary job that we're 
entrusted with in addition to being guardians of the Treasury, to being 
good stewards of the public's business, is to do everything in our 
power to help ensure that our men and women in uniform have all that 
they need to do their job as they stand guard and over this Nation 24 
hours a day, 7 days a week in every scary, dark corner of the world.
  Today, Madam Chair, it's my privilege, with my good friend from 
Georgia (Mr. Bishop), to lay before the House and ask for its approval 
the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill for 
2013.
  On our committee, we feel as though we are the peace of mind 
committee for the United States military. We want to ensure in the work 
that we do in the Military Construction and in Veterans Affairs that we 
have done everything we can to ensure that our men and women in uniform 
don't have any worries, that they don't have to worry about when they 
are in uniform; they don't have to worry about the quality of their 
barracks, their living conditions; they don't have to worry about the 
condition of the military facilities that they are living and working 
in.
  We want to make sure that they have got everything that they need. 
The United States Navy, when it comes to piers or sub pens, or the Air 
Force for runways, or the Marine Corps or for the Army, we have done 
everything in this bill that the Pentagon has asked us to do and fully 
funded it in a way that's fiscally responsible, Madam Chair.
  We have also taken care of our veterans, of our men and women in 
uniform when they leave the Armed Forces and become veterans, because 
they will spend most of their time out of the military, and we wanted 
to be sure that our Veterans Affairs Administration was fully funded, 
that they have got all the resources that they need in order to take 
care of our men's and women's health care needs, psychological and 
physical, and in a way that's fiscally responsible.
  In this environment, Madam Chair, in this era of record debt and 
deficit, our subcommittee, along with the full Appropriations 
Committee, has done everything in our power to find ways to save money, 
to be good stewards of the public's precious, hard-earned tax dollars. 
And in our subcommittee, something we have done together in a 
bipartisan way, arm-in-arm, we have made sure to ferret out every 
unspent dollar from previous years that could be returned to taxpayers, 
to avoid spending increases while making sure that our men and women in 
uniform are taken care of while they are in uniform and also, as I say, 
when they leave active duty and become veterans under the care of the 
Department of Veterans Affairs.
  We have, because of decreases, Madam Chair, of the Air Force, the 
Army, the Pentagon, our Armed Forces are reassessing their deployment 
needs around the world. We've seen a reduction this year in the level 
of spending requests for military construction around the world that 
enabled us to increase spending for the Department of Veterans Affairs 
while holding overall spending for this bill flat. That reflects not 
only our finding cost savings in various parts of the bill, but, in 
particular, the Air Force, among the branches of the service, asked for 
significantly less money this year.

[[Page H3310]]

  But we have also taken into account in our legislation the pay freeze 
that is in place for the entire Federal Government. We have applied 
that to Federal civilian contractors working in the military 
construction field or for the VA.
  We have also, Madam Chair, in our legislation, made sure that the VA 
uses their construction funds within 5 years. In the past, they simply 
could hold that money year after year after year; and we want to make 
sure that that money is used for the purpose that Congress intended it, 
and that is to build VA facilities.
  We have been able to find savings in a variety of other areas, Madam 
Chair, all of which have permitted us to fully fund the request of the 
Pentagon in giving our Armed Forces around the world everything that 
they need to do their job without a worry in the world. If they are out 
there on watch, guarding the United States of America and protecting 
our liberty, our committee has made sure to give them as much peace of 
mind as possible.
  Two other things I want to make sure to bring to the Members' 
attention that is extremely important.
  At the Veterans Administration, for years there's been an effort to 
get a combined medical record. When you're in uniform, on active duty, 
you have got one set of medical records with the Department of Defense. 
Then when you enter the Veterans Administration, that medical record is 
not compatible with the computer systems or their recordkeeping systems 
at the Veterans Administration, which causes terrible inefficiencies 
and threatens lives, endangers the health of our men and women in 
uniform.
  This committee has taken very seriously the task that Chairman Rogers 
has charged us with to ensure that we move the Department of Defense 
and the Veterans Administration as rapidly as possible to a unified 
medical record. Then when our young men and women leave the active duty 
service, that medical record stays with them in the VA.

                              {time}  1640

  Finally, I want to also make sure to thank my good friend, Sanford 
Bishop from Georgia. It's been a privilege to work with Mr. Bishop and 
his staff. We are blessed with an extraordinarily capable staff on this 
committee.
  This bill, more than I think perhaps any other, Madam Chair, 
illustrates how unified the Congress is in support of our men and women 
in uniform. We have found common ground on every section of this bill, 
on every issue. We've worked together arm-in-arm to make certain that 
the men and women of the United States military can focus on their 
mission of protecting this great Nation with complete peace of mind, 
knowing that the Congress of the United States is behind them and will 
support them in all they do.
  I reserve the balance of my time.

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[[Page H3315]]

  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Madam Chairman, as you know, the allocation provides $71.7 billion 
for the FY 2012 Milcon-VA bill, which is equal to the FY12 enacted 
bill. In my opinion, the allocation is what we could have expected if 
the Republicans would have stuck to the bipartisan agreement that 
established $1.047 as the committee's allocation.
  I've stated at every step of this process that I strongly disagree 
with the path that the majority has chosen to take. I just want to 
point out that the $1.028 trillion allocation puts House Republicans at 
odds with House Democrats, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, and 
the White House. In fact, the Statement of Administration Policy 
recommends a veto of this bill because the overall 302(a) allocation 
fails to stick to the framework established by the Budget Control Act. 
I believe the lower allocation does nothing but slow down the 
appropriations process, and if it stands, will stall economic growth 
and impede job creation.
  With that being said, I'm pleased to join Chairman Culberson as the 
House takes up the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill for Military 
Construction, Veterans Affairs, and related agencies. The Milcon-VA 
bill is critically important to the strength and the well-being of our 
military, our veterans, and the families who sacrifice so much to 
defend our country. In fact, Madam Chairman, I find it quite fitting 
that we're debating this bill after observing Memorial Day earlier in 
the week.
  Working with Chairman Culberson and the members of the subcommittee, 
we've crafted a bill that will address the funding needs of military 
construction and family housing for our troops and their families, as 
well as other quality of life construction projects. In addition, it 
will provide funding for many important VA programs as well as agencies 
like the Veterans Court of Appeals and the American Battle Monuments 
Commission.
  The bill before us today touches every soldier, sailor, marine, and 
airman. In addition, the bill will also impact military spouses, their 
children, and every veteran that participates in our VA programs.
  I want to commend the chairman for his work. Together, we sat through 
numerous hearings, gaining valuable insight into the workings of all of 
the agencies under our subcommittee's jurisdiction. I would also like 
to thank all of our subcommittee members and recognize them for their 
hard work on the bill. We had a lot of contributions and a lot of 
input. I believe that the minority was treated fairly during this 
process, and I want to thank the chairman for ensuring this bipartisan 
result.
  Chairman Culberson has already provided the funding highlights in the 
bill, and I won't repeat them all, but I would like to point out a few 
items that I think are very important.
  DOD Schools. The bill before us today includes $546 billion for the 
renovation and replacement of 10 Department of Defense schools. Madam 
Chairman, I believe that providing the funds for DOD schools will help 
our servicemembers' children get a quality education in a safe 
facility, and it will give our servicemembers and their families some 
peace of mind.
  Medical Center Replacement. I was pleased that in the bill we were 
able to include $127 million for the second increment for Medical 
Center Replacement in Germany. As you know, a large proportion of 
serious casualties from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters are treated 
there, and I'm pleased to see that we're making this important 
investment in Landstuhl.
  Veterans Affairs. For Veterans Affairs, I'm very pleased that the 
bill meets the discretionary budget request in all areas of 
administrative expenses, research, medical care, information 
technology, and facilities. The bill contains $54.4 billion in advance 
appropriations for medical services, medical support and compliance, 
and medical facilities at the VA, which is $1.9 billion above the 
amount included in FY12.
  Madam Chairman, I strongly believe that advance funding provides 
timely and predictable funding for the veterans' health care system, 
and they don't have to worry about the exigencies of a budget not being 
agreed to or appropriations bills not being passed for their medical 
care.
  Overall, the bill provides adequate funding for programs included in 
the bill. However, I'm especially troubled by one of them. 
Unfortunately, during the full committee markup an amendment was 
adopted that essentially nullifies the decisionmaking ability of the 
Department of Defense to use a project labor agreements business model. 
The sponsor of this language believes that it doesn't limit the 
Department from using PLAs. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I had 
the minority subcommittee staff check with the Department regarding 
this language. The Department confirmed that if this bill is enacted 
with the current PLA language included, it would prohibit the 
Department from soliciting bills for FY13-funded construction contracts 
where, as a condition of award, the awardee must negotiate a project 
labor agreement.
  In addition, we do not know the effect this language could have on 
other agencies included in this bill. Using the Milcon-VA bill to 
address this issue is really the wrong place to do it. This language is 
purely an ideological and political provision that goes well beyond the 
scope of this bill. The Milcon-VA bill has always enjoyed broad 
bipartisan support and avoided divisive issues like this one, no matter 
which party held the gavel. I believe that including this language will 
only cause unnecessary complications and does nothing to help our 
servicemembers and our veterans.
  Madam Chairman, please know that as we continue through the process I 
will work to address this issue because an item like this has no place 
in a bill that has always placed our troops, their families, and our 
veterans above ideology.
  Before I close, Madam Chairman, I would like to recognize the staff 
for all of the hard work and the time that they have put into this 
bill. From the minority committee staff I would like to thank Matt 
Washington, Danny Cromer, as well as Michael Reed and Chris Chon from 
my personal office. From the majority committee staff I would like to 
thank Donna Shabazz, Sue Quantius, Sarah Young, and Tracey Russell.
  I would also like to thank Mr. Dicks and Mr. Rogers, who serve as the 
distinguished ranking member and chairman of this committee and who set 
an extremely great example of how committees and ranking members and 
chairmen should work together. There's a collegial atmosphere, although 
we do have reasonable minds disagreeing on several of the issues. But 
we work together collegially, and I thank the chairman and the ranking 
member, Mr. Dicks and Mr. Rogers, for their example in doing so.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. It's my privilege at this time to yield 5 minutes to 
the chairman of the full committee, the gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. 
Rogers).
  Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. I thank the chairman for yielding the time.
  Madam Chair, I rise in support of this bill. Earlier this week, we 
celebrated Memorial Day--a day to commemorate those warfighters who 
made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of our great Nation. I can 
think of no better bill to take up this week in honor of those heroes.

                              {time}  1650

  We know the risks our troops take to fight for our freedom, and it's 
the duty of Congress to care for them accordingly.
  This bipartisan legislation ensures that our troops and veterans have 
the vital resources they need and deserve to fight successfully, have a 
sufficient quality of life, and stay healthy. This bill is funded at 
the same level as last year, $71.7 billion in discretionary funding for 
construction efforts here and abroad, and for veterans health, job 
training, and disability and education benefits programs.
  Included in this total is $1.65 billion for military family housing, 
ensuring quality housing for more than 1.2 million military families. 
Also included is funding for the improvements of existing military 
medical facilities and the continued construction of new ones to ensure 
rapid and quality care for our wounded troops.
  As a result of savings from the planned drawdowns in construction and 
declining BRAC costs, as well as rescissions of excess prior-year funds 
and

[[Page H3316]]

other efficiencies, we were able to increase spending on veterans 
health discretionary funding by more than $2 billion while holding the 
line on overall spending.
  But these increases were not without stringent oversight. We know 
there are areas where the VA can improve, so we've required them to 
report on construction expenditures and savings, and restricted them 
from taking certain spending actions without telling the Congress 
first. This bill continues to implement our committee-wide--indeed, 
House-wide--mission to smart, sustainable spending without negatively 
impacting our warfighters or vets.
  You'll see that this bill was written very deliberately to most 
effectively provide for our troops and our veterans with the most 
careful and streamlined use of taxpayer dollars.
  I want to commend Chairman Culberson and the ranking member, Mr. 
Bishop, for their dedication and mutual respect as they crafted this 
legislation. There's not a subcommittee in our full committee that has 
the kind of cooperative spirit that this subcommittee has. Their staff 
and the members have worked hard and well to ensure that we bring a 
great piece of bipartisan legislation before the body today.
  Last but not least, I also want to thank one former member of the 
subcommittee staff specifically for his tireless service, Tim Peterson, 
as he embarks on his retirement after more than 30 years of Federal 
service. Tim was most recently the clerk of this subcommittee, and as a 
member of the appropriations staff, has worked on veterans issue, among 
others, for almost 20 years. He also served on the Defense Subcommittee 
for 6 years. Before joining the committee staff in 1989, Tim was a 
budget analyst in the Office of the Navy Comptroller. Staff and members 
of the committee alike all agree that he was one of our best--
knowledgeable, accurate, always professional.
  He was a very calming presence. No matter what was thrown his way, he 
always rose above the fray and the hardships in order to get things 
done. His expertise and dedication will be greatly missed, and I thank 
him for his years of service.
  One thing I want to mention in closing, the chairman mentioned 
language in the bill which I'm very grateful for dealing with the 
sharing of medical records between the DOD and the Veterans Department. 
A few years ago, 2 or 3 years ago, I learned of a young soldier in my 
district who was hit by an IED in Iraq and was blinded in one eye and 
had some vision in the other eye. And when he was discharged, went to 
the veterans hospital because he was losing the vision of the other 
eye. They were unable to help him because they didn't know what the 
military hospital had done when they operated in his forehead around 
his eyes, and they couldn't get the records out of DOD at the veterans 
hospital to help him with his problem. The result was he lost his 
remaining eyesight.
  The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I yield the gentleman an additional 1 minute.
  Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. He lost the vision of the second eye simply 
because the veterans hospital could not get access to the military 
hospital after he was injured, I assume, from the hospital in Germany. 
That is unforgivable, that two Federal Agencies both dealing with 
military and veterans, can't share records. And so the language in the 
bill, which I am very grateful to the chairman and the ranking member 
for including, hopefully will force these two Departments to mesh these 
medical records so that we can save lives and save veterans and 
soldiers from untold misery.
  As we remember those who lost their lives in battle, Madam Chair, we 
are reminded that we can provide our Nation's troops, our veterans, our 
military families, with the programs and services they have earned as a 
result of their service and sacrifice. So I urge my colleagues to 
support this bill.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. At this time I'd like to yield such time as he 
may consume to the gentleman from Washington (Mr. Dicks), the 
distinguished ranking member of the full committee.
  Mr. DICKS. Madam Chair, I rise in support of the Fiscal Year 2013 
Military Construction and Veterans Administration Appropriation bill. 
This bill continues the strong tradition of bipartisanship and finding 
common ground as members traditionally work together to fund 
construction of military facilities and strive to improve the quality 
of life and care afforded to our veterans and military families.
  I want to associate myself with the remarks made by Chairman Rogers 
about Tim Peterson. He was and has been one of our outstanding clerks 
on the committee. I have had the pleasure of working with him 
throughout his entire career, and we're going to miss him, but wish him 
well in his future endeavors.
  I also would say that this subcommittee has a very strong staff, and 
it's great to see the way Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Sanford 
Bishop have worked together.
  And I want to say also that Chairman Rogers is absolutely correct, we 
have to overcome this inability to get information between our military 
and veterans hospitals, and the private sector as well. We've got to do 
everything we can to improve the treatment of our troops.
  I have previously stated my objection to the Majority's decision to 
renege on the bipartisan agreement that was reached less than a year 
ago in the Budget Control Act. I believe the reduced discretionary 
allocation in the Ryan budget threatens to stall economic growth and 
job creation, and in the near term it introduces uncertainty in our 
appropriations process that imperils our ability to produce these bills 
in a timely manner. Accordingly, it is my belief that we could save a 
considerable amount of time in the appropriations process if we simply 
returned to the agreement reached last August--the $1.047 trillion 
allocation level for this year--a level which even the Republican 
Senate leadership concedes is where we will eventually end up.
  I am, however, encouraged that this bill fully funds the Department 
of Veterans Affairs discretionary budget request of $60.7 billion. It 
meets the overall budget request in all areas of administrative 
expenses, research, information technology and facilities. The 
recommendation contains $74.6 billion for the mandatory VA programs 
providing compensation and pensions, educational benefits, vocational 
rehabilitation, life insurance and housing loan programs.
  I am particularly pleased that the Military Construction account 
includes $546.9 million for construction and replacement of Department 
of Defense Education Activity schools. A total of 10 schools will be 
refurbished with this funding--six in the United States and nine 
schools at overseas installations. Many of these schools are in 
exceedingly poor condition and these improvements are long overdue. I 
have been a strong advocate for the modernization of schools serving 
the children of our nation's service members and I commend the Chairman 
and Ranking Member on their commitment to this effort.
  In addition, this bill continues to ensure that we are providing 
high-quality, safe, and healthy living accommodations for our single 
military members. Many of the older barracks in the military are at the 
end of their 30 to 50-year design life cycle and do not meet current 
design standards or current building codes. This bill includes $927 
million for 21 barracks, dormitories, and bachelor enlisted quarters 
that will address substandard living conditions and boost morale among 
our troops. While this bill makes significant progress in addressing 
current deficiencies, it does not address all the housing shortfalls 
for our single service members. The quality of our installations is a 
measure of the nation's commitment to the troops who defend it, and we 
must continue to improve the substandard conditions of the military's 
barracks, dormitories, and bachelor quarters in the future. I encourage 
the Department of Defense to continue to replace these facilities in a 
timely manner.
  There is one provision in the bill that concerns me. During full 
committee consideration, an amendment was passed that would restrict 
the use of Project Labor Agreements on military construction projects. 
Current policy gives the Defense Department the option to choose 
whether a PLA is appropriate for a particular project--whether it will 
save money or accelerate construction schedules at the government's 
convenience. An amendment will be offered on the floor later today to 
remove this harmful language and I encourage my colleagues to vote for 
it.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chair, at this time I would like to yield 2 
minutes to my good friend, the gentleman from Mississippi (Mr. 
Nunnelee).
  Mr. NUNNELEE. Madam Chair, I rise in support of this legislation and 
commend Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Bishop on their work and 
the subcommittee on this bill.

[[Page H3317]]

  Earlier this week, we remembered Memorial Day and many of us around 
the Nation gave words in recognition of those who paid the ultimate 
sacrifice in defense of freedom. It is altogether fitting and proper 
that we would do that, but our words need to be backed up with actions. 
This bill provides the action that backs up our words.
  In hearings before the subcommittee, we heard from Marine Corps 
Sergeant Major Michael Barrett; and in his testimony, his phrase echoed 
in my mind. He said keeping the faith goes both ways.
  Well, our Constitution makes it clear that the obligation of our 
Federal Government is to provide for the common defense. This bill 
keeps the faith for those men and women who are providing for that 
common defense. We make sure that our military has the resources and 
the facilities needed to train, to house, to educate their families, to 
equip our servicemembers. But it also makes sure that we have the 
resources to provide health care and benefits to those veterans who 
have served. And to make it quite clear, we're not giving those 
veterans anything. They have earned every bit of it. They honored their 
commitment. It's important that the Nation honor our commitment back to 
them.
  And while this bill keeps the faith with our military, it also keeps 
the faith with the taxpayers. We're doing our part to curb spending by 
funding those Departments at a more responsible and effective-use 
level. It provides an increase in funding for veterans health care; but 
by cutting military construction, we provide level funding, and that's 
a responsible thing to do.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. At this time I'm happy to yield 2 minutes to 
the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee).

                              {time}  1700

  Ms. LEE of California. First let me thank you, Congressman Bishop, 
for yielding time, and also for your very thoughtful and steady 
leadership as our ranking member on this Appropriations Subcommittee. 
We appreciate your leadership.
  Also, I want to thank the chairman and, again, our ranking member for 
your bipartisan efforts, and also for including language in this bill 
which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to report to 
Congress detailed plans to eliminate the backlog and improve the 
accuracy of the claims process within 6 months.
  I introduced this language because, first, I just have to say, as the 
daughter of a military veteran, I know firsthand the sacrifices and the 
commitment involved with military service. But let me say this: It is 
just totally unacceptable and shameful to force the very people who put 
their lives on the line to wait months--and, in some cases, years--to 
receive the benefits that they have earned.
  Last week, I joined with my colleague, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, 
and over 200 veterans at an event to address the backlog at the Oakland 
Veterans Affairs regional office. We listened to the veterans as they 
came up to speak one by one with a story and a struggle. The pain and 
suffering of these veterans, it was overwhelming. I wish, Mr. Chairman 
and Mr. Ranking Member, you could have been there to listen to this 
testimony. Hopefully, we'll be able to share some of that with you and 
with the subcommittee because this language that we put in really will 
address many of the issues that were raised.
  For example, I heard one of my constituents say that he waited 6 
months just for the paperwork and spent another 2 years waiting for the 
Oakland Veterans Affairs office to consider his request to upgrade his 
disability rating for posttraumatic stress. This young man sacrificed a 
great deal going overseas to fight for our country, and yet now he has 
been asked to put his life on hold--really, just on hold--until his 
claim is processed. There are thousands of other stories just like his 
where veterans are waiting an average of 320 days to see some relief.
  The CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I yield the gentlelady an additional 30 
seconds.
  Ms. LEE of California. I just want to conclude by saying, now the VA 
is saying that they will reduce this backlog and improve accuracy by 
2015, but waiting 3 more years is really quite unacceptable. Veterans 
in my district and throughout the country cannot wait any longer, Madam 
Chair. These veterans served our country when we needed them, and it's 
our responsibility as a Nation to be there when they need us.
  So I want to thank you again for inserting this language into the 
bill, and hopefully this will be the beginning of some justice for 
these veterans who deserve it.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, I want to assure my colleague from 
California and all the Members, and all the members of the military 
tonight listening, if you have retired recently, our subcommittee is 
going to really bore in on this and make sure that the claims backlog 
is dealt with, that it's done expeditiously. Obviously, we want to make 
sure that these men and women who, again, have earned everything that 
this country can possibly give them, to make their life comfortable and 
secure, to make sure that their health is taken care of, that that 
claims backlog is dealt with.
  I also want to reassure my colleagues--and I know that we've got a 
rapt audience at the Veterans Administration here tonight as well--that 
we are going to really bore in on this medical records problem. It is 
utterly unacceptable for Federal bureaucracies to not work together on 
something as vitally important as medical records.
  The example that Chairman Rogers gave us of a young man who lost his 
eyesight because of a bureaucratic inadequacy and just foolishness is 
just not acceptable. We had another story of a young man who actually 
lost his life in Bill Young's district, Chairman Young of Florida. So 
we're going to make sure that those issues are dealt with, and again, 
to make sure that our men and women in uniform don't ever have to look 
over their shoulder to worry about what the United States Congress has 
done to support them.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. At this time I'd like to yield 2 minutes to 
the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Cuellar).
  Mr. CUELLAR. I certainly want to thank the ranking member for 
yielding. I want to thank my good friend from Texas, Chairman 
Culberson, thank both of them for this bipartisan approach.
  Mr. Chairman, contract and other non-VA medical providers play a 
vital part in the VA medical system, providing veterans medical 
services throughout the State of Texas and the United States where the 
VA doesn't currently operate VA-run and -staffed facilities.

  Despite the critical role that they play throughout Texas, many of 
these providers in my south Texas district are experiencing continuing 
issues with receiving timely compensation for services rendered. Many 
of the past-due claims are well over 60 days past due.
  Non-VA medical providers are dedicated to providing the highest 
quality medical care possible to the veterans, providing them choice; 
however, they operate on a fee basis and rely on timely compensation 
for services rendered to continue to operate. If these providers are 
unable to receive timely payment from the VA, economic reality will 
eventually force them to stop providing services to the veterans.
  A factor that further complicates this situation is the VA's overall 
lack of responsiveness to inquiries from medical providers and even 
Members of Congress about past-due medical payments.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. CUELLAR. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Yes, Mr. Cuellar. Absolutely, we're going to bore in 
on this.
  MD Anderson, of course, is one of the Nation's greatest cancer 
centers. We have had complaints and concerns expressed to my office 
about the slow pay of the Veterans' Administration for MD Anderson's 
treatment of VA patients. And absolutely, we're going to get to the 
bottom of it. There's just no excuse for it.
  If services have been rendered--and clearly, MD Anderson, again, if 
you're lucky enough to be treated by MD Anderson, they're the greatest 
in the world. We're going to make sure that they're paid promptly. I 
understand that MD Anderson is currently owed over $1 million. It's 
just unacceptable. We'll do everything we can to help.

[[Page H3318]]

  The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I yield the gentleman an additional 30 
seconds.
  Mr. CUELLAR. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I also want to be sure to thank my colleague from 
Texas (Mr. Cuellar) and say how much I've enjoyed working with him over 
the years in securing our border in Texas. We've got language in the 
bill, which Mr. Cuellar suggested, to encourage the Army National Guard 
to work with our Border Patrol and law enforcement authorities on the 
border in a cooperative way to ensure that the laws are enforced 
because, of course, we want that border to work securely and fairly so 
we get that strong economic growth back and forth while keeping out the 
criminals and gunrunners. Henry, you've been a leader in this effort to 
secure the border, and it's a privilege to work with you on this
  Mr. CUELLAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and ranking member.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, at this time I'd like to yield 2 
minutes to my good friend from Kansas (Mr. Yoder).
  Mr. YODER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
  I just want to join the chorus of those who appreciate the work done 
on the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Committee. The work by 
Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Bishop is a true spirit of 
bipartisanship, and it shows what we're capable of when we work 
together towards a common goal.
  It's hard to think of an issue more important than honoring our 
Nation's veterans, those men and women who stood in the field of 
battle, who assumed the call of duty, served admirably, protecting our 
Nation and protecting freedom and liberty around the world. So this 
committee and this appropriations bill is important to me.
  As a freshman member of the committee, I can think of no better place 
than to be in a position to help advocate for our men and women who 
serve the country. After that service is concluded, it's our 
responsibility as a Nation to honor that commitment by ensuring that 
the benefits are high quality and are there, and that the access is 
available to those whom it was promised to.
  I commend the committee for working with the Veterans Affairs 
Department and other areas of the government to find and ensure that 
our constituents and folks across this country who served receive the 
benefits they were promised, and they receive the access and quality 
and all sorts of things, from physical to mental health care, to our 
facilities, making sure they're quality facilities, renovated, and that 
the men and women receive the care that was promised, because these 
benefits are earned, not given. That's a topic I think that's very near 
and dear to these veterans is that these services were earned in the 
field of battle. They were earned through service, and it is our 
responsibility and our duty to honor that commitment.
  So I look forward to continuing to work with the committee, look 
forward to working with Members of both parties as we continue to do 
all that we can. And I join the efforts of the chairman to ensure that 
resources are going to the proper spots, that it's being done quickly 
and adequately, and that we don't have veterans waiting and waiting 
forever to get the services they were promised. It's our duty and 
responsibility to honor that commitment, and I am here to stand in 
strong support of the budget that the committee has put together today.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. At this time, Madam Chairman, I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, at this time I'd like to yield such 
time as he might consume to the distinguished gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Altmire) for the purpose of a colloquy.
  Mr. ALTMIRE. Madam Chairman, let me thank Chairman Culberson for his 
excellent work on this important bill which funds our Nation's military 
construction projects and provides support to the infrastructure that 
serves our Nation's veterans.

                              {time}  1710

  The Veterans Affairs campus located in Butler, Pennsylvania, provides 
critical health care services to veterans across western Pennsylvania. 
Two years ago I worked with my colleagues to provide $8.5 million to 
make improvements to the campus to ensure the veterans in our community 
receive the best care in the most up-to-date facilities.
  Despite these improvements, the VA has plans to move forward with 
construction of an offsite health care center. And while this is a 
laudable initiative by the VA, many veterans in our community are 
worried that the construction of this new center will lead to the 
elimination of services that are currently available to them at the 
Butler VA, which is a valuable asset to the community relied upon by 
veterans throughout western Pennsylvania.
  Valid questions about the rationale behind constructing a new 
facility have been raised in the veterans' community, and their input 
should be heard. Any new, offsite facility should complement, not 
replace services currently provided at the Butler VA campus. My 
colleagues and I will continue to monitor this issue to ensure the 
highest quality services to veterans will continue to be provided at 
that facility now and in the future.
  I yield to the Representative of the Butler VA facility, my friend, 
Congressman Mike Kelly.
  Mr. KELLY. Madam Chairman, I thank the chairman for the hard work on 
this vital appropriations bill.
  I met with some veterans back in Butler on Tuesday morning, and their 
concern is with the Butler campus and the building of a new health care 
center. Now, here's where the questions come. Specifically, they want 
to know why the VA would build a brand new, $16 million health care 
center while the existing facility, Building Number 1, was recently 
renovated, upgraded, and provides roughly 70,000 more square feet than 
the new health care center.
  The decision to build the new health care center was done with no 
public hearing, which the VA readily admits. And according to local 
veterans, the VA failed to provide a forum for their input.
  Now, veterans in my district would like to be reassured that the 
services they currently receive will be met and exceeded without any 
disruption in continuity. Many would like to know why a new facility is 
being built when the current facilities could have been 
further upgraded, and the potential savings could have been used to 
improve the quality of the service provided.

  The VA should respond to the veteran community with reassurances that 
the care and service at the Butler VA is being enhanced, not diminished 
by the construction of a new health care center.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. ALTMIRE. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, my colleagues from Pennsylvania raise 
a really important issue that absolutely the subcommittee will look 
into. It's a constant source of concern for us to see Federal agencies 
waste our constituents' precious tax dollars for, it appears to me from 
the way you've described it, possible elimination of existing good 
service, duplication of existing service, and unnecessary expenditure 
of tax dollars.
  We will work very closely with you and do all that we can to help 
make sure that the veterans that you represent are being given the very 
best possible health care at the best value for taxpayers.
  Thank you very much.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, I yield 2 minutes to a friend and 
colleague from Texas, Judge John Carter.
  Mr. CARTER. Madam Chairman, I thank the distinguished chairman of the 
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, 
on which I have the joy to serve, and I commend him on a great product, 
and I commend Mr. Bishop on a great product.
  Madam Chair, I rise today in support of H.R. 5854, the Military 
Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill. This bill is 
very important because it takes care of our soldiers and our warriors, 
wherever they may be, their families, and the Nation's veterans.

[[Page H3319]]

  This bill ensures our warriors and their families will have quality 
housing, schools, medical and dental facilities, training facilities 
and much, much more. In fact, this bill provides a recommendation of 
over $546 million for the construction or replacement of DOD education 
activities and schools.
  As a consequence, what we appropriate with this bill is a peace of 
mind dividend to our warriors because they're like parents everywhere: 
you've got to worry about your kids and their schools when you're away 
doing your job. So this is an indication by us that our Nation cares 
for our soldiers and our warriors, wherever they may be, and want to 
provide the best.
  Madam Chair, this bill is a good bill. And yet, it meets the 
obligations we have to these warriors, and we stay within our projected 
view that it's time for us to keep a close eye on and squeeze every 
budget to make sure that we're saving the taxpayers' dollars.
  Chairman Culberson has been a warrior on behalf of those savings and, 
joined by Mr. Bishop, they have produced a good product, one that is 
worthy of this Congress and worthy of this country. And I'm glad to 
have had a small part in that.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, at this time I'd like to engage in a 
colloquy with the distinguished chairman of the House Transportation 
Committee, Mr. Mica of Florida. I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman for 
that purpose.
  Mr. MICA. Thank you so much, Mr. Culberson, for yielding to me. I 
appreciate the gentleman yielding for the purpose of this colloquy.
  Madam Chairman, as you may know, the new Veterans' Administration 
Medical Center under construction in central Florida has experienced 
some serious delays and possible cost overruns that have raised 
significant concerns for Florida veterans who have earned and deserve 
this facility.
  With Florida's growing veteran population and more veterans returning 
to our State from current conflicts, this facility is, in fact, key to 
keeping our pledge to aid those who served our Nation. It is important 
to clearly state the intent and the serious commitment of Congress that 
this new facility should be completed as soon as possible, and also 
make certain that we do everything in our power to ensure that the 
Federal resources necessary are available to complete that project.
  Is this your intent?
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. MICA. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Yes, absolutely, Chairman Mica. We're going to ensure 
that there are enough Federal resources to complete that veterans 
facility, but also to ensure that we're good stewards of the treasury 
and that our tax dollars are spent wisely and carefully. And we're 
going to make certain that the VA is not wasting money and not engaging 
in cost overruns, sir.
  Mr. MICA. Well, thank you. And I'm so appreciative of your commitment 
and support. This is very important to our veterans, and we are most 
appreciative of the commitment you've made to central Florida and those 
that have served our Nation, not only on this, but all the projects.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Thank you, Chairman Mica. You've been a stalwart 
leader on behalf of veterans for many years here in Congress. And thank 
you for bringing this to our attention. The subcommittee is going to 
give it our full attention and make sure that facility is built in a 
way that's cost effective and takes care of your veterans.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Madam Chairman, we have no more speakers. I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, as we wrap up the opening part of this 
bill, I think it's important to point out to the Members of the House, 
to the country, that this is the third appropriations bill that has 
been brought to the House floor under the leadership of Chairman 
Rogers, the third appropriations bill that we've brought up as a new 
majority in the House. And this, to my knowledge, is the first time in 
American history that there have been three successive spending bills 
in a row.
  Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. CULBERSON. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
  Mr. DICKS. I know the gentleman wouldn't want to mislead the House. 
This is the second bill. We're going to get to the third bill, but this 
is number 2.
  Mr. CULBERSON. What I was remembering, my good friend, Mr. Dicks, is 
when we first came in the spring, I think there was an omnibus bill 
that had to be dealt with.
  Mr. DICKS. That was last year. H.R. 1. We remember it. It was 800 
amendments, 600 on your side, 200 on our side.
  Mr. CULBERSON. What we've done, I know on this committee, is work 
arm-in-arm to find ways to solve the Nation's problems.
  Mr. DICKS. We're going to get the third one up tomorrow or maybe 
tonight even.
  Mr. CULBERSON. We are indeed. We're going to finish this bill 
tonight, Mr. Dicks. But it's important to point out, I think, that 
Chairman Rogers deserves a great deal of credit. This committee has 
worked. We have searched every nook and cranny we can of the Federal 
budget under our jurisdiction to save every possible dollar we can, and 
this is the first time, certainly in my memory and my knowledge of 
American history, that we've had multiple appropriations bills in a row 
that have reduced Federal spending.

                              {time}  1720

  Our constituents want us to do, obviously, far more. Yet when it 
comes to the military, when it comes to Veterans Affairs, we have 
worked arm in arm to save every possible dollar while at the same time 
preserving the quality of care for our veterans in the VA health care 
system. Then, in the armed services of the United States, when they're 
in uniform, we have made certain that all of their needs are taken care 
of when it comes to housing, when it comes to the education of their 
kids, when it comes to the caliber of the facilities that they have to 
live and work in. So it is our privilege to bring this bill to the 
House tonight in a bipartisan fashion.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. FARR. Madam Chair, this past weekend, we remembered the patriotic 
sacrifice of those that have lost their lives in service to our 
country, and, today we renew our commitment to keep our promise to the 
nation's more than 2 million troops and reservists, their families, 
22.2 million veterans, and 35.5 million family members of living 
veterans or survivors of deceased veterans.
  This committee has a strong history of working in a bipartisan way to 
produce a bill that supports our active duty servicemembers, our 
veterans and their families, and this bill is no exception.
  I commend the Chairman and Ranking Member for their hard work in 
ensuring that this bill is another significant step in fulfilling the 
promise our country made to leave no veteran behind.
  For example, the Office of the Inspector General recently filed a 
report that identified weaknesses in the VA's mental health care 
system. With the mental health needs of our returning servicemembers 
increasing, it is vital that the VA get this right.
  The bill before us today provides resources to implement the 
recommendations of the OIG to provide timely access to mental health 
care services. We have an obligation to take care of our veterans' 
physical AND mental health, and I am glad this bill recognizes that 
critical fact.
  Additionally, I am pleased to see that this bill again emphasizes the 
needs of our veterans in rural areas. The National Cemetery 
Administration has stated that 10% of all veterans will not have access 
to a burial option in a national, State or tribal cemetery within 75 
miles of their home.
  While the strategy to extend services to some rural veterans outlined 
in the 2013 budget request is a good first step, it fails to address a 
long term strategy to fix this problem. This bill instructs the VA to 
correct this oversight and, on behalf of Central Coast veterans, I look 
forward to the Secretary's report on the VA's long term strategy to 
address the burial needs to rural veterans.
  I would note that while this bill is $13.2 billion above last year's 
enact level, it is also $259 million less than the President's request. 
While I am glad to see this bill has been protected from Ryan budget 
cuts, I strongly believe this Congress needs to get back to the 
balanced approach we agreed to in the bipartisan Budget Control Act.
  Mr. MORAN. Madam Chair, I move to strike the last word.
  It seems Republicans are incapable of legislating without exacting a 
toll from federal employees.

[[Page H3320]]

  Earlier this year, in order to prevent a Social Security tax increase 
on all Americans, House Republicans insisted that future federal 
employees nearly quadruple the amount they contribute to their own 
retirement.
  Without a corresponding increase in benefits, the larger contribution 
was simply a pay cut.
  After the tax extenders bill, Republicans sought a toll from federal 
employees on the Transportation Reauthorization bill.
  That bill's price for federal employees was a 1.5 percent reduction 
of agencies' contribution to their retirement benefit.
  Federal employees would have been forced to make up the difference--
again, a pay cut.
  The most egregious attack, unsurprisingly, came from the Budget 
Resolution offered by Mr. Ryan.
  Mr. Ryan's budget directed the House Oversight and Government Reform 
committee to indentify nearly $80 billion in ``savings'' from federal 
employee benefit programs over a ten year window.
  The committee recommended increasing retirement contributions by 5 
percent with no corresponding increase in benefits for all current 
federal employees, immediately increasing retirement contributions to 
5.8 percent for all new federal employees, and eliminating the Social 
Security supplement for all federal employees who retire before 
becoming eligible for their earned Social Security benefit.
  And just today, it was revealed that the Republican Leadership has 
proposed using federal compensation cuts to offset a student loan rate 
reduction extension. What a shame.
  This evening I rise to speak against the federal employee cuts 
contained in the underlying bill.
  The MILCON/VA bill would freeze the pay of some 305,000 civilian 
employees of the Veterans Administration and some DoD employees for a 
third consecutive year.
  It is astounding that Members of this body would stand up this 
evening and proclaim the solemn debt our country owes to our veterans 
knowing this bill cuts the benefits of those who treat and care for our 
retired servicemembers.
  Today there are approximately 100,000 homeless veterans. VA employees 
work every day to reduce that tragedy and as a reward this body will 
freeze their pay.

  According to the most recent reports, veteran unemployment has 
actually dropped below the national average.
  The VA counselors that assist veterans in their search for employment 
undoubtedly deserve some recognition for this trend.
  To thank them, this body will again try to freeze their pay.
  Finally, an estimated one in five veterans from our conflicts in Iraq 
and Afghanistan will return home with some type of post-traumatic 
stress disorder.
  Mental health providers and counselors in the VA and DoD will treat 
these wounded warriors.
  In fiscal year 2013, if this body gets its way, they will see no 
increase in their pay.
  The United States has unarguably the greatest civil service in the 
world.
  Republican attacks against civil servants are unwarranted, 
unjustified, and extremely disappointing.
  Every day, federal employees provide vital services that help keep 
our nation healthy, safe and strong.
  I strongly oppose the federal employee cuts contained in this bill.
  The CHAIR. All time for general debate has expired.
  Pursuant to the rule, the bill shall be considered for amendment 
under the 5-minute rule.
  During consideration of the bill for amendment, the Chair may accord 
priority in recognition to a Member offering an amendment who has 
caused it to be printed in the designated place in the Congressional 
Record. Those amendments will be considered read.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                               H.R. 5854

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the 
     following sums are appropriated, out of any money in the 
     Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for military 
     construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related 
     agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, and 
     for other purposes, namely:

                                TITLE I

                         DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

                      Military Construction, Army

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, military 
     installations, facilities, and real property for the Army as 
     currently authorized by law, including personnel in the Army 
     Corps of Engineers and other personal services necessary for 
     the purposes of this appropriation, and for construction and 
     operation of facilities in support of the functions of the 
     Commander in Chief, $1,820,323,000, to remain available until 
     September 30, 2017: Provided, That of this amount, not to 
     exceed $80,173,000 shall be available for study, planning, 
     design, architect and engineer services, and host nation 
     support, as authorized by law, unless the Secretary of Army 
     determines that additional obligations are necessary for such 
     purposes and notifies the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress of the determination and the reasons 
     therefor.

              Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, naval installations, 
     facilities, and real property for the Navy and Marine Corps 
     as currently authorized by law, including personnel in the 
     Naval Facilities Engineering Command and other personal 
     services necessary for the purposes of this appropriation, 
     $1,551,217,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017: 
     Provided, That of this amount, not to exceed $102,619,000 
     shall be available for study, planning, design, and architect 
     and engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the 
     Secretary of Navy determines that additional obligations are 
     necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor.

                    Military Construction, Air Force

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, military 
     installations, facilities, and real property for the Air 
     Force as currently authorized by law, $388,200,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2017: Provided, That of this 
     amount, not to exceed $18,635,000 shall be available for 
     study, planning, design, and architect and engineer services, 
     as authorized by law, unless the Secretary of Air Force 
     determines that additional obligations are necessary for such 
     purposes and notifies the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress of the determination and the reasons 
     therefor.

                  Military Construction, Defense-Wide

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For acquisition, construction, installation, and equipment 
     of temporary or permanent public works, installations, 
     facilities, and real property for activities and agencies of 
     the Department of Defense (other than the military 
     departments), as currently authorized by law, $3,569,623,000, 
     to remain available until September 30, 2017: Provided, That 
     such amounts of this appropriation as may be determined by 
     the Secretary of Defense may be transferred to such 
     appropriations of the Department of Defense available for 
     military construction or family housing as the Secretary may 
     designate, to be merged with and to be available for the same 
     purposes, and for the same time period, as the appropriation 
     or fund to which transferred: Provided further, That of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $315,562,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Secretary 
     of Defense determines that additional obligations are 
     necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor: Provided further, 
     That, of the amount appropriated, notwithstanding any other 
     provision of law, $26,969,000 shall be available for payments 
     to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for the planning, 
     design, and construction of a new North Atlantic Treaty 
     Organization headquarters.


               Amendment No. 2 Offered by Mr. Blumenauer

  Mr. BLUMENAUER. I have an amendment to offer.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 4, line 14, insert after the dollar amount the 
     following: ``(reduced by $10,000,000)(increased by 
     $10,000,000)''.
       Page 4, line 23, insert after the dollar amount the 
     following: ``(increased by $10,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Oregon is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. I commend Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member 
Bishop for their outstanding work and leadership on this appropriations 
bill. It provides for our veterans, for our military families, and it 
makes great strides for greater energy efficiency on military 
installations.
  But I think it might be able to go farther.
  My amendment would strengthen military national security and save 
taxpayers money by decreasing the Pentagon's energy consumption. The 
amendment would simply align the House bill with the Senate mark for 
the Energy Conservation Investment Program, ECIP, by providing an 
additional $10 million for planning and design.
  The Department of Defense is the largest manager of infrastructure in 
the United States and the largest consumer of energy in the world, 
using over 300,000 barrels of oil per day and almost 4 billion kilowatt 
hours of electricity per year.

[[Page H3321]]

  That's as much energy as the entire State of Oregon, which I call 
home.
  The Pentagon operates 500 installations with over a half million 
buildings and structures worldwide. Given the size and scope of our 
military's infrastructure, it's not surprising to find that the 
Department of Defense accounts for more than 70 percent of all energy 
consumed by the entire Federal Government.
  I believe that the Pentagon and Congress have an obligation to 
taxpayers, who foot the Pentagon's bill of $17 billion a year, which is 
spent on gasoline and diesel fuel, to not only decrease the military's 
overall level of energy consumption through efficiency efforts, but to 
move towards greater energy independence from the petro-dictators.
  It's a necessity for our continued national security, that of freeing 
our military from the tethers of foreign oil as resources grow scarcer 
and suppliers more unstable. It's also an obligation for anyone who is 
serious about cutting our national debt. Every $10 increase in the 
price of petroleum costs the Pentagon an extra $1.3 billion a year on 
top of what we're already spending.
  There are alternatives. There are solutions.
  Congress needs to act by providing the resources and the authorities 
the Pentagon needs because ``supporting our troops'' means securing 
their energy future. In some cases, Congress simply needs to stand out 
of the way so that the Pentagon can continue making progress. The $160 
million in the Senate bill is only a drop in the giant gasoline can if 
it is not accompanied by a significant investment in alternative energy 
sources for use by the military. Leaders in the Pentagon and our 
veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan stand behind the idea 
of making the military leaner and meaner by reducing its reliance on 
fossil fuel.
  Speaking in reference to this amendment, Mike Breen, a veteran and 
vice president of the Truman National Security Project, said:

       As an Operation Free veteran and former captain in Iraq and 
     Afghanistan, I saw firsthand that we have a 21st-century 
     military shackled to a 20th-century fuel. All of our civilian 
     leaders must match the military's commitment and stop putting 
     shortsighted politics ahead of good policy.

  But some colleagues are tied to the past, and they've scuttled any 
and all efforts to provide for greater efficiency and alternatives in 
military vehicles.
  The amendment I offer today must be accompanied by future investment 
in sustainable fuels in the military, and I hope my colleagues on both 
sides of the aisle will recognize that the only way to truly sustain a 
strong military and achieve energy independence is to stand up for 
these investments, not only today, but in future appropriations as 
well.
  I thank the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee for their 
hard work. This appropriations bill puts us closer to where we need to 
be, and I hope they will join me in making this last push. I urge my 
colleagues to support this amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I rise to accept the gentleman's amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, the gentleman's amendment seeks to 
increase by $10 million the Department of Defense's investment in 
planning and design funds for the Energy Conservation Investment 
Program, which is certainly a worthwhile program. I accept the 
amendment, but I cannot stand idly by when I hear the gentleman refer 
to energy independence.
  There is no greater energy independence for America than a ``drill 
here and drill now'' for American energy resources. I proudly represent 
the west side of Houston. My neighbors, my friends, my colleagues are 
geophysicists and engineers who have kids in school and who play at the 
beach. I've grown up on the Galveston seawall while watching oil and 
gas rigs right off the shore. We can produce American oil and gas 
cleanly, safely, immediately, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, 
vast wealth for the Nation and making America energy independent in the 
short run and in the medium run.
  Clearly, we need to make investments in the future for alternative 
sources of energy, and I certainly agree with the gentleman from Oregon 
about the need to make investments looking out into the future. Rice 
University, which I also proudly represent, is doing extraordinary work 
in developing ways of using carbon nanostructures to transmit 
electricity ballistically so that we can transmit, store, and transport 
electricity in ways that were never possible before. That holds the 
promise of making America energy independent, but that's way down the 
road.
  I do have to say that, while I support the gentleman's amendment, I 
feel compelled to point out, if you would just unleash the 
entrepreneurship, the good judgment and the extraordinary technological 
capability, then the people of America, many of whom I proudly 
represent in west Houston, would be able to produce vast amounts of 
American oil and gas right here in the United States immediately. It 
would be a tremendous boost to the Nation's economy, making America 
energy independent in the short run. Clearly, because we've got enough 
shale gas, we could, frankly, support ourselves on shale gas and oil 
for who knows how long.
  I do agree with the gentleman: for the long term, we do need to look 
at energy alternatives. Certainly, with regard to the Department of 
Defense, you've reduced one account by $10 million and plussed up this 
account by $10 million so that the overall cost of the bill does not go 
up. I do accept the gentleman's amendment, but I have a respectful 
disagreement with the premise of his argument.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I move to strike the last word.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Madam Chairman, I agree with the gentleman 
that the Department of Defense should be doing all that it can to 
reduce energy costs and to help us be energy independent. The Energy 
Conservation Investment Program is a fairly small, but key, component 
of the Defense Department's energy strategy.

                              {time}  1730

  The goals are to improve supply resiliency, implement energy security 
plans, and alter energy consumption at individual installations. 
Investing in this small program helps the Department to reduce its 
energy costs and help meet its facility energy mandates.
  The Department has been funding ECIP as far back as 2001, and the 
committee has seen great progress on energy savings. For example, at 
Fort Liggett, they are building a 1-megawatt solar grid which will help 
that installation ease its energy consumption.
  ECIP is a cost-saving program I think all Members should be happy to 
support. Therefore, I urge all Members to vote ``yes'' on this 
amendment, and I'm delighted that the chairman has accepted it.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

               Military Construction, Army National Guard

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Army National Guard, and contributions 
     therefor, as authorized by law, $613,799,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2017: Provided, That of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $26,622,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Director 
     of the Army National Guard determines that additional 
     obligations are necessary for such purposes and notifies the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of 
     the determination and the reasons therefor.

               Military Construction, Air National Guard

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Air National Guard, and contributions 
     therefor, as authorized by law, $42,386,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2017: Provided, That of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $4,000,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Director 
     of the Air National Guard determines that additional 
     obligations are necessary for such purposes and notifies the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of 
     the determination and the reasons therefor.


[[Page H3322]]


  Mr. HOLT. I move to strike the last word, Madam Chair.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. HOLT. Madam Chair, our Nation just marked another Memorial Day at 
war and another year in which the epidemic of suicides of our country's 
servicemembers and veterans continues. In April of this year, The New 
York Times' columnist Nick Kristof noted that for every American lost 
on the battlefield, about 25 servicemembers and veterans are dying by 
their own hands. These are silent casualties of war. And if we're to 
stop the epidemic, we must recognize it.
  I want to thank the ranking member, Representative Bishop of Georgia, 
and the subcommittee chair, Representative Culberson, for their 
recognition that continued funding for suicide prevention and outreach 
programs for our veterans must be a national priority. I'm pleased that 
the committee looked favorably on my request and included an additional 
$20 million for suicide prevention outreach programs, including social 
media in this bill. This is the second year in a row that the House has 
taken this step because the administration and the VA have yet to 
create a dedicated programmatic funding stream for suicide prevention 
and outreach.
  Let me take this opportunity to urge the administration and our 
President to direct the Office of Management and Budget to create such 
a dedicated funding stream for such programs. Our suicide prevention 
response must be coordinated and must be funded properly over the 
lifetime of our veterans, because this is not a problem that will go 
away once the guns fall silent.
  I thank my colleagues on the committee for all they have done to 
craft a bill that will help provide the services that our veterans need 
and deserve.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                  Military Construction, Army Reserve

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Army Reserve as authorized by law, 
     $305,846,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017: 
     Provided, That of the amount appropriated, not to exceed 
     $15,951,000 shall be available for study, planning, design, 
     and architect and engineer services, as authorized by law, 
     unless the Chief of the Army Reserve determines that 
     additional obligations are necessary for such purposes and 
     notifies the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress of the determination and the reasons therefor.

                  Military Construction, Navy Reserve

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the reserve components of the Navy and 
     Marine Corps as authorized by law, $49,532,000, to remain 
     available until September 30, 2017: Provided, That of the 
     amount appropriated, not to exceed $2,118,000 shall be 
     available for study, planning, design, and architect and 
     engineer services, as authorized by law, unless the Secretary 
     of the Navy determines that additional obligations are 
     necessary for such purposes and notifies the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the 
     determination and the reasons therefor.

                Military Construction, Air Force Reserve

       For construction, acquisition, expansion, rehabilitation, 
     and conversion of facilities for the training and 
     administration of the Air Force Reserve as authorized by law, 
     $10,979,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017: 
     Provided, That of the amount appropriated, not to exceed 
     $2,879,000 shall be available for study, planning, design, 
     and architect and engineer services, as authorized by law, 
     unless the Chief of the Air Force Reserve determines that 
     additional obligations are necessary for such purposes and 
     notifies the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress of the determination and the reasons therefor.

                   North Atlantic Treaty Organization

                      Security Investment Program

       For the United States share of the cost of the North 
     Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment Program for 
     the acquisition and construction of military facilities and 
     installations (including international military headquarters) 
     and for related expenses for the collective defense of the 
     North Atlantic Treaty Area as authorized by section 2806 of 
     title 10, United States Code, and Military Construction 
     Authorization Acts, $254,163,000, to remain available until 
     expended.

                   Family Housing Construction, Army

       For expenses of family housing for the Army for 
     construction, including acquisition, replacement, addition, 
     expansion, extension, and alteration, as authorized by law, 
     $4,641,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017.

             Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Army

       For expenses of family housing for the Army for operation 
     and maintenance, including debt payment, leasing, minor 
     construction, principal and interest charges, and insurance 
     premiums, as authorized by law, $530,051,000.

           Family Housing Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       For expenses of family housing for the Navy and Marine 
     Corps for construction, including acquisition, replacement, 
     addition, expansion, extension, and alteration, as authorized 
     by law, $102,182,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2017.

    Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Navy and Marine Corps

       For expenses of family housing for the Navy and Marine 
     Corps for operation and maintenance, including debt payment, 
     leasing, minor construction, principal and interest charges, 
     and insurance premiums, as authorized by law, $378,230,000.

                 Family Housing Construction, Air Force

       For expenses of family housing for the Air Force for 
     construction, including acquisition, replacement, addition, 
     expansion, extension, and alteration, as authorized by law, 
     $83,824,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017.

          Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Air Force

       For expenses of family housing for the Air Force for 
     operation and maintenance, including debt payment, leasing, 
     minor construction, principal and interest charges, and 
     insurance premiums, as authorized by law, $497,829,000.

         Family Housing Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide

       For expenses of family housing for the activities and 
     agencies of the Department of Defense (other than the 
     military departments) for operation and maintenance, leasing, 
     and minor construction, as authorized by law, $52,238,000.

         Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund

       For the Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement 
     Fund, $1,786,000, to remain available until expended, for 
     family housing initiatives undertaken pursuant to section 
     2883 of title 10, United States Code, providing alternative 
     means of acquiring and improving military family housing and 
     supporting facilities.

          Chemical Demilitarization Construction, Defense-Wide

       For expenses of construction, not otherwise provided for, 
     necessary for the destruction of the United States stockpile 
     of lethal chemical agents and munitions in accordance with 
     section 1412 of the Department of Defense Authorization Act, 
     1986 (50 U.S.C. 1521), and for the destruction of other 
     chemical warfare materials that are not in the chemical 
     weapon stockpile, as currently authorized by law, 
     $151,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017, 
     which shall be only for the Assembled Chemical Weapons 
     Alternatives program.

            Department of Defense Base Closure Account 1990

       For deposit into the Department of Defense Base Closure 
     Account 1990, established by section 2906(a)(1) of the 
     Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (10 U.S.C. 
     2687 note), $349,396,000, to remain available until expended.

            Department of Defense Base Closure Account 2005

       For deposit into the Department of Defense Base Closure 
     Account 2005, established by section 2906A(a)(1) of the 
     Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (10 U.S.C. 
     2687 note), $126,697,000, to remain available until expended: 
     Provided, That the Department of Defense shall notify the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress 14 
     days prior to obligating an amount for a construction project 
     that exceeds or reduces the amount identified for that 
     project in the most recently submitted budget request for 
     this account by 20 percent or $2,000,000, whichever is less: 
     Provided further, That the previous proviso shall not apply 
     to projects costing less than $5,000,000, except for those 
     projects not previously identified in any budget submission 
     for this account and exceeding the minor construction 
     threshold under section 2805 of title 10, United States Code.

                       Administrative Provisions

       Sec. 101.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     shall be expended for payments under a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee 
     contract for construction, where cost estimates exceed 
     $25,000, to be performed within the United States, except 
     Alaska, without the specific approval in writing of the 
     Secretary of Defense setting forth the reasons therefor.
       Sec. 102.  Funds made available in this title for 
     construction shall be available for hire of passenger motor 
     vehicles.
       Sec. 103.  Funds made available in this title for 
     construction may be used for advances to the Federal Highway 
     Administration, Department of Transportation, for the 
     construction of access roads as authorized by section 210 of 
     title 23, United States Code, when projects authorized 
     therein are certified as important to the national defense by 
     the Secretary of Defense.
       Sec. 104.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used to begin construction of new bases in the United 
     States for which specific appropriations have not been made.

[[Page H3323]]

       Sec. 105.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     shall be used for purchase of land or land easements in 
     excess of 100 percent of the value as determined by the Army 
     Corps of Engineers or the Naval Facilities Engineering 
     Command, except: (1) where there is a determination of value 
     by a Federal court; (2) purchases negotiated by the Attorney 
     General or the designee of the Attorney General; (3) where 
     the estimated value is less than $25,000; or (4) as otherwise 
     determined by the Secretary of Defense to be in the public 
     interest.
       Sec. 106.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     shall be used to: (1) acquire land; (2) provide for site 
     preparation; or (3) install utilities for any family housing, 
     except housing for which funds have been made available in 
     annual Acts making appropriations for military construction.
       Sec. 107.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     for minor construction may be used to transfer or relocate 
     any activity from one base or installation to another, 
     without prior notification to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.
       Sec. 108.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used for the procurement of steel for any construction 
     project or activity for which American steel producers, 
     fabricators, and manufacturers have been denied the 
     opportunity to compete for such steel procurement.
       Sec. 109.  None of the funds available to the Department of 
     Defense for military construction or family housing during 
     the current fiscal year may be used to pay real property 
     taxes in any foreign nation.
       Sec. 110.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used to initiate a new installation overseas without 
     prior notification to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress.
       Sec. 111.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be obligated for architect and engineer contracts 
     estimated by the Government to exceed $500,000 for projects 
     to be accomplished in Japan, in any North Atlantic Treaty 
     Organization member country, or in countries bordering the 
     Arabian Sea, unless such contracts are awarded to United 
     States firms or United States firms in joint venture with 
     host nation firms.
       Sec. 112.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     for military construction in the United States territories 
     and possessions in the Pacific and on Kwajalein Atoll, or in 
     countries within the United States Central Command Area of 
     Responsibility, may be used to award any contract estimated 
     by the Government to exceed $1,000,000 to a foreign 
     contractor: Provided, That this section shall not be 
     applicable to contract awards for which the lowest responsive 
     and responsible bid of a United States contractor exceeds the 
     lowest responsive and responsible bid of a foreign contractor 
     by greater than 20 percent: Provided further, That this 
     section shall not apply to contract awards for military 
     construction on Kwajalein Atoll for which the lowest 
     responsive and responsible bid is submitted by a Marshallese 
     contractor.
       Sec. 113.  The Secretary of Defense shall inform the 
     appropriate committees of both Houses of Congress, including 
     the Committees on Appropriations, of plans and scope of any 
     proposed military exercise involving United States personnel 
     30 days prior to its occurring, if amounts expended for 
     construction, either temporary or permanent, are anticipated 
     to exceed $100,000.
       Sec. 114.  Funds appropriated to the Department of Defense 
     for construction in prior years shall be available for 
     construction authorized for each such military department by 
     the authorizations enacted into law during the current 
     session of Congress.
       Sec. 115.  For military construction or family housing 
     projects that are being completed with funds otherwise 
     expired or lapsed for obligation, expired or lapsed funds may 
     be used to pay the cost of associated supervision, 
     inspection, overhead, engineering and design on those 
     projects and on subsequent claims, if any.
       Sec. 116.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any 
     funds made available to a military department or defense 
     agency for the construction of military projects may be 
     obligated for a military construction project or contract, or 
     for any portion of such a project or contract, at any time 
     before the end of the fourth fiscal year after the fiscal 
     year for which funds for such project were made available, if 
     the funds obligated for such project: (1) are obligated from 
     funds available for military construction projects; and (2) 
     do not exceed the amount appropriated for such project, plus 
     any amount by which the cost of such project is increased 
     pursuant to law.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 117.  In addition to any other transfer authority 
     available to the Department of Defense, proceeds deposited to 
     the Department of Defense Base Closure Account established by 
     section 207(a)(1) of the Defense Authorization Amendments and 
     Base Closure and Realignment Act (10 U.S.C. 2687 note) 
     pursuant to section 207(a)(2)(C) of such Act, may be 
     transferred to the account established by section 2906(a)(1) 
     of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (10 
     U.S.C. 2687 note), to be merged with, and to be available for 
     the same purposes and the same time period as that account.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 118.  Subject to 30 days prior notification, or 14 
     days for a notification provided in an electronic medium 
     pursuant to sections 480 and 2883 of title 10, United States 
     Code, to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress, such additional amounts as may be determined by the 
     Secretary of Defense may be transferred to: (1) the 
     Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund from 
     amounts appropriated for construction in ``Family Housing'' 
     accounts, to be merged with and to be available for the same 
     purposes and for the same period of time as amounts 
     appropriated directly to the Fund; or (2) the Department of 
     Defense Military Unaccompanied Housing Improvement Fund from 
     amounts appropriated for construction of military 
     unaccompanied housing in ``Military Construction'' accounts, 
     to be merged with and to be available for the same purposes 
     and for the same period of time as amounts appropriated 
     directly to the Fund: Provided, That appropriations made 
     available to the Funds shall be available to cover the costs, 
     as defined in section 502(5) of the Congressional Budget Act 
     of 1974, of direct loans or loan guarantees issued by the 
     Department of Defense pursuant to the provisions of 
     subchapter IV of chapter 169 of title 10, United States Code, 
     pertaining to alternative means of acquiring and improving 
     military family housing, military unaccompanied housing, and 
     supporting facilities.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 119.  In addition to any other transfer authority 
     available to the Department of Defense, amounts may be 
     transferred from the accounts established by sections 
     2906(a)(1) and 2906A(a)(1) of the Defense Base Closure and 
     Realignment Act of 1990 (10 U.S.C. 2687 note), to the fund 
     established by section 1013(d) of the Demonstration Cities 
     and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 3374) to 
     pay for expenses associated with the Homeowners Assistance 
     Program incurred under 42 U.S.C. 3374(a)(1)(A). Any amounts 
     transferred shall be merged with and be available for the 
     same purposes and for the same time period as the fund to 
     which transferred.
       Sec. 120.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
     funds made available in this title for operation and 
     maintenance of family housing shall be the exclusive source 
     of funds for repair and maintenance of all family housing 
     units, including general or flag officer quarters: Provided, 
     That not more than $35,000 per unit may be spent annually for 
     the maintenance and repair of any general or flag officer 
     quarters without 30 days prior notification, or 14 days for a 
     notification provided in an electronic medium pursuant to 
     sections 480 and 2883 of title 10, United States Code, to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress, 
     except that an after-the-fact notification shall be submitted 
     if the limitation is exceeded solely due to costs associated 
     with environmental remediation that could not be reasonably 
     anticipated at the time of the budget submission.
       Sec. 121.  Amounts contained in the Ford Island Improvement 
     Account established by subsection (h) of section 2814 of 
     title 10, United States Code, are appropriated and shall be 
     available until expended for the purposes specified in 
     subsection (i)(1) of such section or until transferred 
     pursuant to subsection (i)(3) of such section.
       Sec. 122.  None of the funds made available in this title, 
     or in any Act making appropriations for military construction 
     which remain available for obligation, may be obligated or 
     expended to carry out a military construction, land 
     acquisition, or family housing project at or for a military 
     installation approved for closure, or at a military 
     installation for the purposes of supporting a function that 
     has been approved for realignment to another installation, in 
     2005 under the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 
     1990 (part A of title XXIX of Public Law 101 510; 10 U.S.C. 
     2687 note), unless such a project at a military installation 
     approved for realignment will support a continuing mission or 
     function at that installation or a new mission or function 
     that is planned for that installation, or unless the 
     Secretary of Defense certifies that the cost to the United 
     States of carrying out such project would be less than the 
     cost to the United States of cancelling such project, or if 
     the project is at an active component base that shall be 
     established as an enclave or in the case of projects having 
     multi-agency use, that another Government agency has 
     indicated it will assume ownership of the completed project. 
     The Secretary of Defense may not transfer funds made 
     available as a result of this limitation from any military 
     construction project, land acquisition, or family housing 
     project to another account or use such funds for another 
     purpose or project without the prior approval of the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress. This 
     section shall not apply to military construction projects, 
     land acquisition, or family housing projects for which the 
     project is vital to the national security or the protection 
     of health, safety, or environmental quality: Provided, That 
     the Secretary of Defense shall notify the congressional 
     defense committees within seven days of a decision to carry 
     out such a military construction project.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 123.  During the 5-year period after appropriations 
     available in this Act to the Department of Defense for 
     military construction and family housing operation and 
     maintenance and construction have expired for obligation, 
     upon a determination that such appropriations will not be 
     necessary for the

[[Page H3324]]

     liquidation of obligations or for making authorized 
     adjustments to such appropriations for obligations incurred 
     during the period of availability of such appropriations, 
     unobligated balances of such appropriations may be 
     transferred into the appropriation ``Foreign Currency 
     Fluctuations, Construction, Defense'', to be merged with and 
     to be available for the same time period and for the same 
     purposes as the appropriation to which transferred.
       Sec. 124.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used by the Secretary of Defense to take beneficial 
     occupancy of more than 2,000 parking spaces (other than 
     handicap-reserved spaces) to be provided by the BRAC 133 
     project: Provided, That this limitation may be waived in part 
     if: (1) the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that 
     levels of service at existing intersections in the vicinity 
     of the project have not experienced failing levels of service 
     as defined by the Transportation Research Board Highway 
     Capacity Manual over a consecutive 90-day period; (2) the 
     Department of Defense and the Virginia Department of 
     Transportation agree on the number of additional parking 
     spaces that may be made available to employees of the 
     facility subject to continued 90-day traffic monitoring; and 
     (3) the Secretary of Defense notifies the congressional 
     defense committees in writing at least 14 days prior to 
     exercising this waiver of the number of additional parking 
     spaces to be made available.
       Sec. 125.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used for any action that relates to or promotes the 
     expansion of the boundaries or size of the Pinon Canyon 
     Maneuver Site, Colorado.
       Sec. 126. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), none of 
     the funds made available in this Act may be used by the 
     Secretary of the Army to relocate a unit in the Army that--
       (1) performs a testing mission or function that is not 
     performed by any other unit in the Army and is specifically 
     stipulated in title 10, United States Code; and
       (2) is located at a military installation at which the 
     total number of civilian employees of the Department of the 
     Army and Army contractor personnel employed exceeds 10 
     percent of the total number of members of the regular and 
     reserve components of the Army assigned to the installation.
       (b) Exception.--Subsection (a) shall not apply if the 
     Secretary of the Army certifies to the congressional defense 
     committees that in proposing the relocation of the unit of 
     the Army, the Secretary complied with Army Regulation 5 10 
     relating to the policy, procedures, and responsibilities for 
     Army stationing actions.

                    (including rescission of funds)

       Sec. 127.  Of the unobligated balances available for 
     ``Military Construction, Defense-Wide'', from prior 
     appropriations Acts, $20,000,000 are hereby cancelled: 
     Provided, That no amounts may be cancelled from amounts that 
     were designated by Congress as an emergency requirement or 
     for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism 
     pursuant to the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget or the 
     Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as 
     amended.

                    (including rescission of funds)

       Sec. 128.  Of the unobligated balances available for 
     ``Department of Defense Base Closure Account 2005'', from 
     prior appropriations Acts, $212,291,000 are herby cancelled: 
     Provided, That no amounts may be cancelled from amounts that 
     were designated by Congress as an emergency requirement or 
     for Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism 
     pursuant to the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget or the 
     Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, as 
     amended.
       Sec. 129.  The total amount available in this Act for pay 
     for civilian personnel of the Department of Defense for 
     fiscal year 2013 shall be the amount otherwise appropriated 
     or made available by this Act for such pay reduced by 
     $2,334,000.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 130.  Of the proceeds credited to the Department of 
     Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund pursuant to 
     subsection (c)(1)(C) of section 2883 of title 10, United 
     States Code, from a Department of Navy land conveyance, the 
     Secretary of Defense shall transfer $10,500,000 to the 
     Secretary of the Navy under paragraph (3) of subsection (d) 
     of such section for use by the Secretary of the Navy as 
     provided in paragraph (1) of such subsection until expended.

  Mr. CULBERSON (during the reading). Madam Chairman, I ask unanimous 
consent that the remainder of title I be considered as read, printed in 
the Record, and open to amendment at any point.
  The CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from 
Texas?
  There was no objection.
  The CHAIR. Are there any amendments to that portion of the bill?
  If not, the Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                                TITLE II

                     DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

                    Veterans Benefits Administration

                       compensation and pensions

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For the payment of compensation benefits to or on behalf of 
     veterans and a pilot program for disability examinations as 
     authorized by section 107 and chapters 11, 13, 18, 51, 53, 
     55, and 61 of title 38, United States Code; pension benefits 
     to or on behalf of veterans as authorized by chapters 15, 51, 
     53, 55, and 61 of title 38, United States Code; and burial 
     benefits, the Reinstated Entitlement Program for Survivors, 
     emergency and other officers' retirement pay, adjusted-
     service credits and certificates, payment of premiums due on 
     commercial life insurance policies guaranteed under the 
     provisions of title IV of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act 
     (50 U.S.C. App. 541 et seq.) and for other benefits as 
     authorized by sections 107, 1312, 1977, and 2106, and 
     chapters 23, 51, 53, 55, and 61 of title 38, United States 
     Code, $61,741,232,000, to remain available until expended: 
     Provided, That not to exceed $9,204,000 of the amount 
     appropriated under this heading shall be reimbursed to 
     ``General operating expenses, Veterans Benefits 
     Administration'', ``Medical support and compliance'', and 
     ``Information technology systems'' for necessary expenses in 
     implementing the provisions of chapters 51, 53, and 55 of 
     title 38, United States Code, the funding source for which is 
     specifically provided as the ``Compensation and pensions'' 
     appropriation: Provided further, That such sums as may be 
     earned on an actual qualifying patient basis, shall be 
     reimbursed to ``Medical care collections fund'' to augment 
     the funding of individual medical facilities for nursing home 
     care provided to pensioners as authorized.


                   Amendment Offered by Ms. Hayworth

  Ms. HAYWORTH. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 25, line 14, after the dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $1) (increased by $1)''.

  The CHAIR. The gentlewoman from New York is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Ms. HAYWORTH. Madam Chair, the purpose of this amendment is to 
equally increase and decease funding by $1 to address an issue for many 
of our guardsmen, reservists, and their families. A number of these men 
and women, these guardsmen and reservists, who dutifully serve our 
country for many years are never called into active duty. Under current 
law they are ineligible to receive a government memorial headstone or 
marker for their grave site.
  This issue came to my attention in our own home district in New York 
when I heard from Mr. Charles Ricotta, who is a constituent of ours. He 
lost his son Joe to a heart attack. It was Joe's 47th birthday, and he 
had served in the Navy Reserve from 1997 to 2007. And despite his 10 
years of service in the Reserves, he was not eligible to receive a 
government headstone or marker honoring his service.
  Mr. Charles Ricotta, Joe's father, isn't looking for a handout. He's 
not looking for payments for any other burial services. He simply would 
like to purchase, at his own expense, a foot marker from the VA for his 
son's grave site to recognize Joe's service to our country.
  So there is a piece of legislation that I've introduced, H.R. 2305, 
the Memorialize Our Guardsmen and Reservists Act, and that would 
correct this inequity by making available for purchase, through the 
Department of Veterans Affairs, headstones or markers for members of 
the Reserve components who did not serve on active duty.
  A government memorial may cost less than other headstones. This 
particular one would seem to be a modest monument, but it's more than a 
simple appearance. It's a symbol of service and sacrifice for our 
Nation. Our servicemen and -women, active and inactive, have 
contributed or sacrificed their time and efforts for our Nation, and 
they've been separated from their families, friends, and civilian 
lives. Our Reserve components deserve the opportunity to be recognized 
for the commitment they have made to serve and defend our country. They 
share the same spirit of patriotism as the millions of soldiers who 
came before them and served in hopes that no others would be needed to 
serve in time of war.
  Headstones or markers for our guardsmen or reservists would be paid 
for by the individual or family member at no additional cost to 
taxpayers. This has been endorsed by the National Guard Association of 
the United States, Reserve Officers Association, and the Association of 
the United States Navy.
  This issue deserves our attention as we consider this legislation, 
and I look forward to working with my colleagues to address it.
  With that, Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

[[Page H3325]]

                              {time}  1740

  The CHAIR. Does anyone seek time in opposition?
  If not, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentlewoman 
from New York (Ms. Hayworth).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                         readjustment benefits

       For the payment of readjustment and rehabilitation benefits 
     to or on behalf of veterans as authorized by chapters 21, 30, 
     31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 41, 51, 53, 55, and 61 of title 38, 
     United States Code, and for the payment of benefits under the 
     Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, $12,607,476,000, to 
     remain available until expended: Provided, That expenses for 
     rehabilitation program services and assistance which the 
     Secretary is authorized to provide under subsection (a) of 
     section 3104 of title 38, United States Code, other than 
     under paragraphs (1), (2), (5), and (11) of that subsection, 
     shall be charged to this account.

                   veterans insurance and indemnities

       For military and naval insurance, national service life 
     insurance, servicemen's indemnities, service-disabled 
     veterans insurance, and veterans mortgage life insurance as 
     authorized by chapters 19 and 21, title 38, United States 
     Code, $104,600,000, to remain available until expended.

                 veterans housing benefit program fund

       For the cost of direct and guaranteed loans, such sums as 
     may be necessary to carry out the program, as authorized by 
     subchapters I through III of chapter 37 of title 38, United 
     States Code: Provided, That such costs, including the cost of 
     modifying such loans, shall be as defined in section 502 of 
     the Congressional Budget Act of 1974: Provided further, That 
     during fiscal year 2013, within the resources available, not 
     to exceed $500,000 in gross obligations for direct loans are 
     authorized for specially adapted housing loans.
       In addition, for administrative expenses to carry out the 
     direct and guaranteed loan programs, $157,814,000.

            vocational rehabilitation loans program account

       For the cost of direct loans, $19,000, as authorized by 
     chapter 31 of title 38, United States Code: Provided, That 
     such costs, including the cost of modifying such loans, shall 
     be as defined in section 502 of the Congressional Budget Act 
     of 1974: Provided further, That funds made available under 
     this heading are available to subsidize gross obligations for 
     the principal amount of direct loans not to exceed 
     $2,729,000.
       In addition, for administrative expenses necessary to carry 
     out the direct loan program, $346,000, which may be paid to 
     the appropriation for ``General operating expenses, Veterans 
     Benefits Administration''.

          native american veteran housing loan program account

       For administrative expenses to carry out the direct loan 
     program authorized by subchapter V of chapter 37 of title 38, 
     United States Code, $1,089,000.

                     Veterans Health Administration

                            medical services

       For necessary expenses for furnishing, as authorized by 
     law, inpatient and outpatient care and treatment to 
     beneficiaries of the Department of Veterans Affairs and 
     veterans described in section 1705(a) of title 38, United 
     States Code, including care and treatment in facilities not 
     under the jurisdiction of the Department, and including 
     medical supplies and equipment, bioengineering services, food 
     services, and salaries and expenses of health care employees 
     hired under title 38, United States Code, aid to State homes 
     as authorized by section 1741 of title 38, United States 
     Code, assistance and support services for caregivers as 
     authorized by section 1720G of title 38, United States Code, 
     and loan repayments authorized by section 604 of the 
     Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 
     (Public Law 111 163; 124 Stat. 1174; 38 U.S.C. 7681 note); 
     $43,557,000,000, plus reimbursements, shall become available 
     on October 1, 2013, and shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2014: Provided  further, That notwithstanding 
     any other provision of law, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     shall establish a priority for the provision of medical 
     treatment for veterans who have service-connected 
     disabilities, lower income, or have special needs: Provided 
     further, That notwithstanding any other provision of law, the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall give priority funding for 
     the provision of basic medical benefits to veterans in 
     enrollment priority groups 1 through 6: Provided further, 
     That notwithstanding any other provision of law, the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs may authorize the dispensing of 
     prescription drugs from Veterans Health Administration 
     facilities to enrolled veterans with privately written 
     prescriptions based on requirements established by the 
     Secretary: Provided further, That the implementation of the 
     program described in the previous proviso shall incur no 
     additional cost to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

                     medical support and compliance

       For necessary expenses in the administration of the 
     medical, hospital, nursing home, domiciliary, construction, 
     supply, and research activities, as authorized by law; 
     administrative expenses in support of capital policy 
     activities; and administrative and legal expenses of the 
     Department for collecting and recovering amounts owed the 
     Department as authorized under chapter 17 of title 38, United 
     States Code, and the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act (42 
     U.S.C. 2651 et seq.); $6,033,000,000, plus reimbursements, 
     shall become available on October 1, 2013, and shall remain 
     available until September 30, 2014.

                           medical facilities

       For necessary expenses for the maintenance and operation of 
     hospitals, nursing homes, domiciliary facilities, and other 
     necessary facilities of the Veterans Health Administration; 
     for administrative expenses in support of planning, design, 
     project management, real property acquisition and 
     disposition, construction, and renovation of any facility 
     under the jurisdiction or for the use of the Department; for 
     oversight, engineering, and architectural activities not 
     charged to project costs; for repairing, altering, improving, 
     or providing facilities in the several hospitals and homes 
     under the jurisdiction of the Department, not otherwise 
     provided for, either by contract or by the hire of temporary 
     employees and purchase of materials; for leases of 
     facilities; and for laundry services, $4,872,000,000, plus 
     reimbursements, shall become available on October 1, 2013, 
     and shall remain available until September 30, 2014.

                    medical and prosthetic research

       For necessary expenses in carrying out programs of medical 
     and prosthetic research and development as authorized by 
     chapter 73 of title 38, United States Code, $582,674,000, 
     plus reimbursements, shall remain available until September 
     30, 2014.

                    National Cemetery Administration

         For necessary expenses of the National Cemetery 
     Administration for operations and maintenance, not otherwise 
     provided for, including uniforms or allowances therefor; 
     cemeterial expenses as authorized by law; purchase of one 
     passenger motor vehicle for use in cemeterial operations; 
     hire of passenger motor vehicles; and repair, alteration or 
     improvement of facilities under the jurisdiction of the 
     National Cemetery Administration, $258,284,000, of which not 
     to exceed $25,828,000 shall remain available until September 
     30, 2014: Provided, That none of the funds under this heading 
     may be used to expand the Urban Initiative project beyond 
     those sites outlined in the fiscal year 2012 or previous 
     budget submissions or any other rural strategy, other than 
     the Rural Initiative included in the fiscal year 2013 budget 
     submission, until the Secretary of Veterans Affairs submits 
     to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress a strategy to serve the burial needs of veterans 
     residing in rural and highly rural areas and that strategy 
     has been approved by the Committees: Provided further, That 
     the strategy shall include: (1) A review of previous policies 
     of the National Cemetery Administration regarding 
     establishment of new national cemeteries, including whether 
     the guidelines of the Administration for establishing 
     national cemetery annexes remain valid; (2) Data identifying 
     the number of and geographic areas where rural veterans are 
     not currently served by national or existing State cemeteries 
     and identification of areas with the largest unserved 
     populations, broken down by veterans residing in urban versus 
     rural and highly rural; (3) Identification of the number of 
     veterans who reside within the 75-mile radius of a cemetery 
     that is limited to cremations or of a State cemetery which 
     has residency restrictions, as well as an examination of how 
     many communities that fall under a 75-mile radius have an 
     actual driving distance greater than 75 miles; (4) 
     Reassessment of the gaps in service, factoring in the above 
     conditions that limit rural and highly rural veteran burial 
     options; (5) An assessment of the adequacy of the policy of 
     the Administration on establishing new cemeteries proposed in 
     the fiscal year 2013 budget request; (6) Recommendations for 
     an appropriate policy on new national cemeteries to serve 
     rural or highly rural areas; (7) Development of a national 
     map showing the locations and number of all unserved 
     veterans; and (8) A time line for the implementation of such 
     strategy and cost estimates for using the strategy to 
     establish new burial sites in at least five rural or highly 
     rural locations: Provided further, That the Comptroller 
     General of the United States shall review the strategy to 
     ensure that it includes the elements listed above prior to 
     the submission of the report by the Secretary: Provided 
     further, That this strategy shall be submitted no later 180 
     days after the date of enactment of this Act.

                      Departmental Administration

                         general administration

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For necessary operating expenses of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs, not otherwise provided for, including 
     administrative expenses in support of Department-Wide capital 
     planning, management and policy activities, uniforms, or 
     allowances therefor; not to exceed $25,000 for official 
     reception and representation expenses; hire of passenger 
     motor vehicles; and reimbursement of the General Services 
     Administration for security guard services, $416,737,000, of 
     which not to exceed $20,837,000 shall remain available until 
     September 30, 2014: Provided, That funds provided under this 
     heading may be transferred to ``General operating expenses, 
     Veterans Benefits Administration''.


                     Amendment Offered by Mr. Welch

  Mr. WELCH. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.

[[Page H3326]]

  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 34, line 2, insert before the period at the end the 
     following:
     : Provided further, That of the funds made available under 
     this heading, such sums as may be necessary shall be 
     available to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to comply with 
     the Department's energy management requirements under section 
     543(f)(7) of the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (42 
     U.S.C. 8253(f)(7))

  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Vermont is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. WELCH. Madam Chair, this amendment, offered by my colleague from 
Colorado (Mr. Gardner) and I, does something straightforward. It 
forces, really encourages, the VA to do something that it has been 
required to do, and that's report on energy efficiency.
  One of the goals I think all of us have, regardless of our point of 
view about what is the best fuel source, is to do everything we can to 
make sure that we use less, not more. One of the best places for us to 
save on energy is in our Federal buildings. Anything we can do to 
encourage them, to do the inventory, so that they know what steps can 
be taken to use less energy means we are going to save taxpayers money 
and help their bottom line budget.
  In previous legislation this Congress authorized, actually directed, 
that our agencies make these reports available. That's a step that 
would then allow them to participate in energy saving contracts with 
some of our energy saving companies. This legislation basically says 
let's get that job done.
  I yield to my colleague from Colorado (Mr. Gardner).
  Mr. GARDNER. Thank you, Mr. Welch, for allowing me to sponsor this 
amendment with you.
  Energy savings performance contracts present a great opportunity for 
this government to do two of our highest priorities: number one, create 
jobs and, number two, reduce spending. It's an opportunity that we can 
all work together, something that has bipartisan support to make sure 
that we're doing the right thing when it comes to making our government 
buildings more efficient, and do it in a way that actually creates 
private sector jobs.
  By some estimates the Federal Government can save $20 million or more 
by implementing energy savings measures in Federal buildings. Again, 
this is a program that's been approved, it's in law, and it's something 
that we have seen before used in a way that can create jobs, private 
sector opportunity, but benefit all taxpayers by reducing spending.
  I thank the gentleman from Vermont for the opportunity to work with 
him and ask and urge the adoption of this amendment.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. WELCH. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chair, we have no objection to the amendment and 
will be happy to accept it.
  Mr. WELCH. I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Vermont (Mr. Welch).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will read:
  The Clerk read as follows:

      general operating expenses, veterans benefits administration

       For necessary operating expenses of the Veterans Benefits 
     Administration, not otherwise provided for, including hire of 
     passenger motor vehicles, reimbursement of the General 
     Services Administration for security guard services, and 
     reimbursement of the Department of Defense for the cost of 
     overseas employee mail, $2,164,074,000: Provided, That 
     expenses for services and assistance authorized under 
     paragraphs (1), (2), (5), and (11) of section 3104(a) of 
     title 38, United States Code, that the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs determines are necessary to enable entitled veterans: 
     (1) to the maximum extent feasible, to become employable and 
     to obtain and maintain suitable employment; or (2) to achieve 
     maximum independence in daily living, shall be charged to 
     this account: Provided further, That of the funds made 
     available under this heading, not to exceed $113,000,000 
     shall remain available until September 30, 2014.

                     information technology systems

                     (including transfer of funds)

       For necessary expenses for information technology systems 
     and telecommunications support, including developmental 
     information systems and operational information systems; for 
     pay and associated costs; and for the capital asset 
     acquisition of information technology systems, including 
     management and related contractual costs of said 
     acquisitions, including contractual costs associated with 
     operations authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United 
     States Code, $3,327,444,000, plus reimbursements: Provided, 
     That $1,021,000,000 shall be for pay and associated costs, of 
     which not to exceed three percent of this amount shall remain 
     available until September 30, 2014: Provided further, That 
     $1,812,045,000 shall be for operations and maintenance, of 
     which not to exceed seven percent of this amount shall remain 
     available until September 30, 2014: Provided further, That 
     $494,399,000 shall be for information technology systems 
     development, modernization, and enhancement, and shall remain 
     available until September 30, 2014: Provided further, That 
     amounts made available for information technology systems 
     development, modernization, and enhancement may not be 
     obligated or expended until the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     or the Chief Information Officer of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs submits to the Committees on Appropriations 
     of both Houses of Congress a certification of the amounts, in 
     parts or in full, to be obligated and expended for each 
     development project: Provided further, That amounts made 
     available for salaries and expenses, operations and 
     maintenance, and information technology systems development, 
     modernization, and enhancement may be transferred among the 
     three subaccounts after the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     requests from the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses 
     of Congress the authority to make the transfer and an 
     approval is issued: Provided further, That amounts made 
     available for the ``Information technology systems'' account 
     for development, modernization, and enhancement may be 
     transferred between projects or to newly defined projects: 
     Provided further, That no project may be increased or 
     decreased by more than $1,000,000 of cost prior to submitting 
     a request to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses 
     of Congress to make the transfer and an approval is issued, 
     or absent a response, a period of 30 days has elapsed: 
     Provided further, That the funds made available under this 
     heading for information technology systems development, 
     modernization, and enhancement, shall be for the projects, 
     and in the amounts, specified under this heading in the 
     report accompanying this Act: Provided further, That of the 
     funds provided to develop an integrated Department of Defense 
     Department of Veterans Affairs (DOD VA) integrated health 
     record, not more than twenty-five percent shall be available 
     for obligation until the DOD VA Interagency Program Office 
     submits to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress a completed fiscal year 2013 execution and spending 
     plan and a long-term roadmap for the life of the project that 
     includes, but is not limited to, the following: (a) annual 
     and total spending for each Department; (b) a quarterly 
     schedule of milestones for each Department over the life of 
     the project; (c) detailed cost-sharing business rules; and 
     (d) data standardization schedules between the Departments.

                      office of inspector general

       For necessary expenses of the Office of Inspector General, 
     to include information technology, in carrying out the 
     provisions of the Inspector General Act of 1978 (5 U.S.C. 
     App.), $113,000,000, of which $6,000,000 shall remain 
     available until September 30, 2014.


                  Amendment No. 7 Offered by Mr. Terry

  Mr. TERRY. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 37, line 15, after the first dollar amount, insert 
     ``(reduced by $1) (increased by $1)''.

  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Nebraska is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. TERRY. Madam Chair, this is to request a dollar in and a dollar 
out to be used in that process for the inspector general to look into 
the VA Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction, which is a 
subdivision of the Office of Construction and Facilities Management of 
the VA. This is the organization that builds and remodels new clinics 
and hospitals.
  What I have discovered, because of experiences in Omaha, Nebraska, 
regarding a proposed new facility to replace a very obsolete and 
decayed facility, is that the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and 
Construction of the Office of Construction and Facilities Management 
hires the engineering firms to do what turns out to be a skeleton 
request for proposal or bids.
  They go out and then they start adding a bunch of stuff on there, 
because I don't know if it's because they're afraid to put all of the 
stuff they want in a bid because then it will look really big and too 
expensive. So what happens then, because they do that, there are 
literally two pages of projects that are needed for veterans.
  But because of their practices and procedures, I don't know if it's 
purposeful or just competency issues, but the reality then is because 
of the cost

[[Page H3327]]

overruns of these additions and the way that they're doing, it is 
perhaps increasing the price of the project by 25 percent, 50 percent, 
even accusations at the Orlando facility of doubling to almost a 
billion dollar hospital. What that does is it takes money away from 
future projects to complete the ones that they have miscalculated, 
again, either purposefully or unintentionally, but it's occurring.
  What happens is they start canceling future projects or pushing them 
out even further. And by doing that what it means is that facilities 
that are decaying, need replacement, are continuing to be used, and 
really place the veterans' health in jeopardy. I will guarantee you 
that if some of these facilities are not replaced in the near future, 
there will be veterans who die because of the structural and 
infrastructure problems within these buildings.

                              {time}  1750

  So something has to change and an inspection and IG review has to be 
done to get the VA on the right course to do these in an affordable way 
without having to raid future funds from other projects.
  So with that, Madam Chairman, I have one question, if I can ask the 
chairman, my friend from Texas.
  I understand you're willing to accept this amendment?
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. TERRY. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. We will accept the gentleman's amendment. He raised an 
important point for the committee's consideration.
  Mr. TERRY. I appreciate that very much.
  With that assurance, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Nebraska (Mr. Terry).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to consider 
out of order amendment No. 1 by the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. 
Blumenauer) and an amendment by the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. 
Schock).
  The CHAIR. Is there objection to considering the amendments at this 
point in the reading?
  Without objection, that will be the order.
  There was no objection.


               Amendment No. 1 Offered by Mr. Blumenauer

  Mr. BLUMENAUER. I offer an amendment.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 31, line 5, after the dollar amount, insert ``(reduced 
     by $35,000,000) (increased by $35,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Oregon is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. I appreciate the gentleman's courtesy. This is such a 
well-oiled machine, the subcommittee galloping ahead, and I apologize 
that I turned my head. I think it is worthy to go back and deal with 
this amendment offered on behalf of my colleague, Cathy McMorris 
Rodgers, and myself.
  Today, America stands on the precipice of discovery when it comes to 
understanding how the human brain operates. These discoveries have huge 
implications for taxpayers--who cumulatively spend over a half trillion 
dollars a year on treatments for brain-related issues--and for some of 
the most pressing medical challenges we face.
  Scientific breakthroughs in neuroscience research have led to a 
higher quality of life for the 50 million Americans who are affected by 
neurological illnesses every year. Two of the most pressing examples of 
how outside trauma and events can drastically alter the structure and 
function of our brain are under the purview of this subcommittee: 
posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
  These injuries can often be hidden from the naked eye. Almost one in 
five soldiers in the previous decade suffered a traumatic brain injury, 
and 15 percent of veterans are diagnosed with posttraumatic stress 
disorder. That represents hundreds of thousands of cases of cognitive 
and physical impairment due to TBI and PTSD that impact the lives and 
the loved ones of our servicemen and -women.
  Today, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers and I, as cochairs of the 
Congressional Neuroscience Caucus, are offering an amendment to the 
Military Construction and Veterans Appropriations Act to ensure that 
the Veterans Administration continues to have the resources it needs to 
find innovative new medicines and enhanced diagnostics for what can 
truly be termed an epidemic. The amendment does not increase or 
decrease any accounts in the appropriations bill. It simply requires 
that no fewer than $35 million of the medical and prosthetic research 
account go towards posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain 
injury so that we can expedite a cure for active duty personnel and 
veterans suffering the effects of brain and psychological trauma 
incurred during their service.
  We are keenly aware that translating research into effective 
treatments and therapeutics is a long and difficult process. Every area 
of research undertaken by the VA to help our veterans must be a 
priority. But we believe that TBI and PTSD research must be further 
prioritized in this bill because we are so close to the finish line in 
our race to find the right treatments for these brain injuries that now 
is the time to dig deep and make the final push.
  Also, these items demand our special attention because their effects 
can so easily harm a soldier's family and loved ones if not properly 
diagnosed. Early detection and prevention preempts chaos, hardship and, 
indeed, in some cases, further loss of life.
  We must commit to better understand how the brain's 100 billion nerve 
cells grow, interact, and are altered by our environment. It's hard to 
think of a more fitting gesture from this body a few days after 
Memorial Day than supporting this amendment to demonstrate our 
commitment to finding effective treatments and therapies for these 
neurological impacts which plague our military personnel who dutifully 
serve our country. We must remember our duty to the wounded warriors 
who face a long journey to recovery. These harms may not be as visible 
as a missing limb but can be even more damaging to a veteran's future 
and relationships.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment, a commitment from 
Congress to our servicemembers that we will continue to do all we can 
to develop new medicines and technologies to improve the lives for 
those in need.
  Again, I appreciate the extraordinary courtesy of the subcommittee 
and respectfully urge adoption of this amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I rise in support of the gentleman's amendment.
  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. CULBERSON. The gentleman brings to the attention of the Congress 
and the country an extraordinarily important issue that the committee 
is focused on. Post-traumatic stress disorder is so extraordinarily 
important and difficult to diagnosis in many cases.
  I appreciate the gentleman's amendment. We welcome it and will 
continue to do everything we can to help make sure to alleviate the 
suffering of a lot of our veterans and what they go through as they 
return from serving this great Nation.
  We accept the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Schock

  Mr. SCHOCK. Madam Chair, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 28, line 23, insert after the dollar amount the 
     following: ``(reduced by $16,000,000) (increased by 
     $16,000,000)''.

  The CHAIR. The gentleman from Illinois is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. SCHOCK. First, let me say thank you to my good friend from the 
great State of Washington for his cooperation in allowing me to offer 
this amendment at this time.
  This amendment specifically dedicates $16 million within the Office 
of Rural Health to expand the current rural veterans' access to covered 
health services through qualifying non-VA health providers to a new 
area within each VISN they currently operate and new VISNs altogether. 
This

[[Page H3328]]

came about in talking to veterans who live, in many cases, hours away 
from the qualified VA facility. It expands a very popular program 
within the VA that allows these veterans who are in need of health 
services to visit an approved health care provider closer to them, 
limiting their cost, the time and travel required to get their needed 
benefits.
  At this time, I yield to my friend from Illinois, Congressman 
Schilling, who's been working tirelessly on this effort of expanding 
health care for rural veterans.
  Mr. SCHILLING. I believe in the concept of allowing our veterans to 
receive medical care closer to home. I remember taking care of my dad 
during the last few months of his life and driving him back and forth 
from Iowa City hospitals several hours at a time for my dad to get the 
care he needed.
  While we appreciated the service and the care provided through the 
VA, I believe that we must continue to make improvements to the care 
our veterans receive. I talked to many constituents in the Illinois 
17th District who feel the same way.
  In 2008, a law was passed that created a pilot program called Access 
Received Closer to Home, also known as Project ARCH. This program helps 
veterans who are more than 60 minutes away from the nearest VA health 
care facility to receive primary care for services at non-VA health 
centers that contract with the VA. I believe this is a very promising 
program for our veterans, and this amendment would allow Project ARCH 
to serve more veterans, and here's how:
  A 2011 audit of the Office of Rural Health found that, at the end of 
fiscal year 2010, the Office of Rural Health had obligated $16 million 
of its budget.

                              {time}  1800

  The audit went on to find examples of lapsed funding that 
``constituted missing opportunities for the Office of Rural Health to 
improve access and quality of care for rural veterans.''
  This amendment would help turn these missed opportunities into more 
veterans served. This amendment by Representative Schock and myself 
would take unused and unobligated funds from the Office of Rural Health 
and devote this money to Project ARCH so that it can serve more of our 
veterans. I support Project ARCH's goals of improving access for 
veterans in cost-effective ways and provide an easing of travel 
requirements for the care that our servicemembers receive.
  I also support another program similar to Project ARCH. In 2006, 
Congress directed the Veterans Health Administration to implement a 
contracting pilot program to better manage the fee-basis care program 
that the VA runs for veterans seeking care outside the VA system. That 
pilot project is called Project HERO. The VA has stated that Project 
HERO has resulted in annual savings of $16 million in the four VISNs it 
operates in with less than 20 percent of the potential workload. This 
means that the savings figure will be much higher if Project HERO is 
utilized across all of the VISNs and at a higher workload level.
  That is why I believe that we should support this program and provide 
it funding so it can help more veterans who do not have easy access to 
facilities across the United States of America.
  Mr. SCHOCK. With that, I would just say I urge my colleagues to 
support this amendment to increase funding for rural health care.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR (Mr. Woodall). Does any Member seek the time in 
opposition?
  If not, the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman 
from Illinois (Mr. Schock).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                      construction, major projects

       For constructing, altering, extending, and improving any of 
     the facilities, including parking projects, under the 
     jurisdiction or for the use of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs, or for any of the purposes set forth in sections 
     316, 2404, 2406, and chapter 81 of title 38, United States 
     Code, not otherwise provided for, including planning, 
     architectural and engineering services, construction 
     management services, maintenance or guarantee period services 
     costs associated with equipment guarantees provided under the 
     project, services of claims analysts, offsite utility and 
     storm drainage system construction costs, and site 
     acquisition, where the estimated cost of a project is more 
     than the amount set forth in section 8104(a)(3)(A) of title 
     38, United States Code, or where funds for a project were 
     made available in a previous major project appropriation, 
     $532,470,000, to remain available until September 30, 2017, 
     of which $5,000,000 shall be to make reimbursements as 
     provided in section 7108 of title 41, United States Code, for 
     claims paid for contract disputes: Provided, That except for 
     advance planning activities, including needs assessments 
     which may or may not lead to capital investments, and other 
     capital asset management related activities, including 
     portfolio development and management activities, and 
     investment strategy studies funded through the advance 
     planning fund and the planning and design activities funded 
     through the design fund, including needs assessments which 
     may or may not lead to capital investments, and salaries and 
     associated costs of the resident engineers who oversee those 
     capital investments funded through this account, and funds 
     provided for the purchase of land for the National Cemetery 
     Administration through the land acquisition line item, none 
     of the funds made available under this heading shall be used 
     for any project which has not been approved by the Congress 
     in the budgetary process: Provided further, That funds made 
     available under this heading for fiscal year 2013, for each 
     approved project shall be obligated: (1) by the awarding of a 
     construction documents contract by September 30, 2013; and 
     (2) by the awarding of a construction contract by September 
     30, 2014: Provided further, That the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs shall promptly submit to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress a written report on 
     any approved major construction project for which obligations 
     are not incurred within the time limitations established 
     above.

                      construction, minor projects

       For constructing, altering, extending, and improving any of 
     the facilities, including parking projects, under the 
     jurisdiction or for the use of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs, including planning and assessments of needs which 
     may lead to capital investments, architectural and 
     engineering services, maintenance or guarantee period 
     services costs associated with equipment guarantees provided 
     under the project, services of claims analysts, offsite 
     utility and storm drainage system construction costs, and 
     site acquisition, or for any of the purposes set forth in 
     sections 316, 2404, 2406, and chapter 81 of title 38, United 
     States Code, not otherwise provided for, where the estimated 
     cost of a project is equal to or less than the amount set 
     forth in section 8104(a)(3)(A) of title 38, United States 
     Code, $607,530,000, to remain available until September 30, 
     2017, along with unobligated balances of previous 
     ``Construction, minor projects'' appropriations which are 
     hereby made available for any project where the estimated 
     cost is equal to or less than the amount set forth in such 
     section: Provided, That funds made available under this 
     heading shall be for: (1) repairs to any of the nonmedical 
     facilities under the jurisdiction or for the use of the 
     Department which are necessary because of loss or damage 
     caused by any natural disaster or catastrophe; and (2) 
     temporary measures necessary to prevent or to minimize 
     further loss by such causes.

       grants for construction of state extended care facilities

       For grants to assist States to acquire or construct State 
     nursing home and domiciliary facilities and to remodel, 
     modify, or alter existing hospital, nursing home, and 
     domiciliary facilities in State homes, for furnishing care to 
     veterans as authorized by sections 8131 through 8137 of title 
     38, United States Code, $85,000,000, to remain available 
     until expended.

             grants for construction of veterans cemeteries

       For grants to assist States and tribal governments in 
     establishing, expanding, or improving veterans cemeteries as 
     authorized by section 2408 of title 38, United States Code, 
     $46,000,000, to remain available until expended.

                       Administrative Provisions

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 201.  Any appropriation for fiscal year 2013 for 
     ``Compensation and pensions'', ``Readjustment benefits'', and 
     ``Veterans insurance and indemnities'' may be transferred as 
     necessary to any other of the mentioned appropriations: 
     Provided, That before a transfer may take place, the 
     Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall request from the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress the 
     authority to make the transfer and such Committees issue an 
     approval, or absent a response, a period of 30 days has 
     elapsed.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 202.  Amounts made available for the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2013, in this Act or any 
     other Act, under the ``Medical services'', ``Medical support 
     and compliance'', and ``Medical facilities'' accounts may be 
     transferred among the accounts: Provided, That any transfers 
     between the ``Medical services'' and ``Medical support and 
     compliance'' accounts of 1 percent or less of the total 
     amount appropriated to the account in this or any other Act 
     may take place subject to notification from the Secretary of 
     Veterans Affairs to the Committees

[[Page H3329]]

     on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress of the amount 
     and purpose of the transfer: Provided further, That any 
     transfers between the ``Medical services'' and ``Medical 
     support and compliance'' accounts in excess of 1 percent, or 
     exceeding the cumulative 1 percent for the fiscal year, may 
     take place only after the Secretary requests from the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress the 
     authority to make the transfer and an approval is issued: 
     Provided further, That any transfers to or from the ``Medical 
     facilities'' account may take place only after the Secretary 
     requests from the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses 
     of Congress the authority to make the transfer and an 
     approval is issued.
       Sec. 203.  Appropriations available in this title for 
     salaries and expenses shall be available for services 
     authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code; 
     hire of passenger motor vehicles; lease of a facility or land 
     or both; and uniforms or allowances therefore, as authorized 
     by sections 5901 through 5902 of title 5, United States Code.
       Sec. 204.  No appropriations in this title (except the 
     appropriations for ``Construction, major projects'', and 
     ``Construction, minor projects'') shall be available for the 
     purchase of any site for or toward the construction of any 
     new hospital or home.
       Sec. 205.  No appropriations in this title shall be 
     available for hospitalization or examination of any persons 
     (except beneficiaries entitled to such hospitalization or 
     examination under the laws providing such benefits to 
     veterans, and persons receiving such treatment under sections 
     7901 through 7904 of title 5, United States Code, or the 
     Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
     Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.)), unless reimbursement of the 
     cost of such hospitalization or examination is made to the 
     ``Medical services'' account at such rates as may be fixed by 
     the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
       Sec. 206.  Appropriations available in this title for 
     ``Compensation and pensions'', ``Readjustment benefits'', and 
     ``Veterans insurance and indemnities'' shall be available for 
     payment of prior year accrued obligations required to be 
     recorded by law against the corresponding prior year accounts 
     within the last quarter of fiscal year 2012.
       Sec. 207.  Appropriations available in this title shall be 
     available to pay prior year obligations of corresponding 
     prior year appropriations accounts resulting from sections 
     3328(a), 3334, and 3712(a) of title 31, United States Code, 
     except that if such obligations are from trust fund accounts 
     they shall be payable only from ``Compensation and 
     pensions''.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 208.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
     during fiscal year 2013, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
     shall, from the National Service Life Insurance Fund under 
     section 1920 of title 38, United States Code, the Veterans' 
     Special Life Insurance Fund under section 1923 of title 38, 
     United States Code, and the United States Government Life 
     Insurance Fund under section 1955 of title 38, United States 
     Code, reimburse the ``General operating expenses, Veterans 
     Benefits Administration'' and ``Information technology 
     systems'' accounts for the cost of administration of the 
     insurance programs financed through those accounts: Provided, 
     That reimbursement shall be made only from the surplus 
     earnings accumulated in such an insurance program during 
     fiscal year 2013 that are available for dividends in that 
     program after claims have been paid and actuarially 
     determined reserves have been set aside: Provided further, 
     That if the cost of administration of such an insurance 
     program exceeds the amount of surplus earnings accumulated in 
     that program, reimbursement shall be made only to the extent 
     of such surplus earnings: Provided further, That the 
     Secretary shall determine the cost of administration for 
     fiscal year 2013 which is properly allocable to the provision 
     of each such insurance program and to the provision of any 
     total disability income insurance included in that insurance 
     program.
       Sec. 209.  Amounts deducted from enhanced-use lease 
     proceeds to reimburse an account for expenses incurred by 
     that account during a prior fiscal year for providing 
     enhanced-use lease services, may be obligated during the 
     fiscal year in which the proceeds are received.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 210.  Funds available in this title or funds for 
     salaries and other administrative expenses shall also be 
     available to reimburse the Office of Resolution Management of 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of 
     Employment Discrimination Complaint Adjudication under 
     section 319 of title 38, United States Code, for all services 
     provided at rates which will recover actual costs but not to 
     exceed $42,904,000 for the Office of Resolution Management 
     and $3,360,000 for the Office of Employment and 
     Discrimination Complaint Adjudication: Provided, That 
     payments may be made in advance for services to be furnished 
     based on estimated costs: Provided further, That amounts 
     received shall be credited to the ``General administration'' 
     and ``Information technology systems'' accounts for use by 
     the office that provided the service.
       Sec. 211.  No appropriations in this title shall be 
     available to enter into any new lease of real property if the 
     estimated annual rental cost is more than $1,000,000, unless 
     the Secretary submits a report the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress approve within 30 
     days following the date on which the report is received.
       Sec. 212.  No funds of the Department of Veterans Affairs 
     shall be available for hospital care, nursing home care, or 
     medical services provided to any person under chapter 17 of 
     title 38, United States Code, for a non-service-connected 
     disability described in section 1729(a)(2) of such title, 
     unless that person has disclosed to the Secretary of Veterans 
     Affairs, in such form as the Secretary may require, current, 
     accurate third-party reimbursement information for purposes 
     of section 1729 of such title: Provided, That the Secretary 
     may recover, in the same manner as any other debt due the 
     United States, the reasonable charges for such care or 
     services from any person who does not make such disclosure as 
     required: Provided further, That any amounts so recovered for 
     care or services provided in a prior fiscal year may be 
     obligated by the Secretary during the fiscal year in which 
     amounts are received.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 213.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, 
     proceeds or revenues derived from enhanced-use leasing 
     activities (including disposal) may be deposited into the 
     ``Construction, major projects'' and ``Construction, minor 
     projects'' accounts and be used for construction (including 
     site acquisition and disposition), alterations, and 
     improvements of any medical facility under the jurisdiction 
     or for the use of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Such 
     sums as realized are in addition to the amount provided for 
     in ``Construction, major projects'' and ``Construction, minor 
     projects''.
       Sec. 214.  Amounts made available under ``Medical 
     services'' are available--
       (1) for furnishing recreational facilities, supplies, and 
     equipment; and
       (2) for funeral expenses, burial expenses, and other 
     expenses incidental to funerals and burials for beneficiaries 
     receiving care in the Department.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 215.  Such sums as may be deposited to the Medical 
     Care Collections Fund pursuant to section 1729A of title 38, 
     United States Code, may be transferred to ``Medical 
     services'', to remain available until expended for the 
     purposes of that account.
       Sec. 216.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs may enter into 
     agreements with Indian tribes and tribal organizations which 
     are party to the Alaska Native Health Compact with the Indian 
     Health Service, and Indian tribes and tribal organizations 
     serving rural Alaska which have entered into contracts with 
     the Indian Health Service under the Indian Self Determination 
     and Educational Assistance Act, to provide healthcare, 
     including behavioral health and dental care. The Secretary 
     shall require participating veterans and facilities to comply 
     with all appropriate rules and regulations, as established by 
     the Secretary. The term ``rural Alaska'' shall mean those 
     lands sited within the external boundaries of the Alaska 
     Native regions specified in sections 7(a)(1) (4) and (7) (12) 
     of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 
     U.S.C. 1606), and those lands within the Alaska Native 
     regions specified in sections 7(a)(5) and 7(a)(6) of the 
     Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, as amended (43 U.S.C. 
     1606), which are not within the boundaries of the 
     Municipality of Anchorage, the Fairbanks North Star Borough, 
     the Kenai Peninsula Borough or the Matanuska Susitna Borough.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 217.  Such sums as may be deposited to the Department 
     of Veterans Affairs Capital Asset Fund pursuant to section 
     8118 of title 38, United States Code, may be transferred to 
     the ``Construction, major projects'' and ``Construction, 
     minor projects'' accounts, to remain available until expended 
     for the purposes of these accounts.
       Sec. 218.  None of the funds made available in this title 
     may be used to implement any policy prohibiting the Directors 
     of the Veterans Integrated Services Networks from conducting 
     outreach or marketing to enroll new veterans within their 
     respective Networks.
       Sec. 219.  The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit 
     to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of 
     Congress a quarterly report on the financial status of the 
     Veterans Health Administration.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 220.  Amounts made available under the ``Medical 
     services'', ``Medical support and compliance'', ``Medical 
     facilities'', ``General operating expenses, Veterans Benefits 
     Administration'', ``General administration'', and ``National 
     Cemetery Administration'' accounts for fiscal year 2013, may 
     be transferred to or from the ``Information technology 
     systems'' account: Provided, That before a transfer may take 
     place, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall request from 
     the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress 
     the authority to make the transfer and an approval is issued.
       Sec. 221.  Of the amounts made available to the Department 
     of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2013, in this Act or any 
     other Act, under the ``Medical facilities'' account for 
     nonrecurring maintenance, not more than 20 percent of the 
     funds made available shall be obligated during the last 2 
     months of that fiscal year: Provided, That the Secretary may 
     waive this requirement after providing written notice to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 222.  Of the amounts appropriated to the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs for fiscal

[[Page H3330]]

     year 2013 for ``Medical services'', ``Medical support and 
     compliance'', ``Medical facilities'', ``Construction, minor 
     projects'', and ``Information technology systems'', up to 
     $247,356,000, plus reimbursements, may be transferred to the 
     Joint Department of Defense-Department of Veterans Affairs 
     Medical Facility Demonstration Fund, established by section 
     1704 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
     Year 2010 (Public Law 111 84; 123 Stat. 3571) and may be used 
     for operation of the facilities designated as combined 
     Federal medical facilities as described by section 706 of the 
     Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 
     Year 2009 (Public Law 110 417; 122 Stat. 4500): Provided, 
     That additional funds may be transferred from accounts 
     designated in this section to the Joint Department of 
     Defense-Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Facility 
     Demonstration Fund upon written notification by the Secretary 
     of Veterans Affairs to the Committees on Appropriations of 
     both Houses of Congress.

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 223.  Such sums as may be deposited to the Medical 
     Care Collections Fund pursuant to section 1729A of title 38, 
     United States Code, for health care provided at facilities 
     designated as combined Federal medical facilities as 
     described by section 706 of the Duncan Hunter National 
     Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 
     110 417; 122 Stat. 4500) shall also be available: (1) for 
     transfer to the Joint Department of Defense-Department of 
     Veterans Affairs Medical Facility Demonstration Fund, 
     established by section 1704 of the National Defense 
     Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111 84; 
     123 Stat. 3571); and (2) for operations of the facilities 
     designated as combined Federal medical facilities as 
     described by section 706 of the Duncan Hunter National 
     Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 (Public Law 
     110 417; 122 Stat. 4500).

                     (including transfer of funds)

       Sec. 224.  Of the amounts available in this title for 
     ``Medical services'', ``Medical support and compliance'', and 
     ``Medical facilities'', a minimum of $15,000,000, shall be 
     transferred to the DOD VA Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund, 
     as authorized by section 8111(d) of title 38, United States 
     Code, to remain available until expended, for any purpose 
     authorized by section 8111 of title 38, United States Code.

                    (including rescissions of funds)

       Sec. 225. (a) Of the funds appropriated in title II of 
     division H of Public Law 112 74, the following amounts which 
     became available on October 1, 2012, are hereby rescinded 
     from the following accounts in the amounts specified:
       (1) ``Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical services'', 
     $1,800,000,000.
       (2) ``Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical support and 
     compliance'', $200,000,000.
       (3) ``Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical facilities'', 
     $400,000,000.
       (b) In addition to amounts provided elsewhere in this Act, 
     an additional amount is appropriated to the following 
     accounts in the amounts specified to remain available until 
     September 30, 2014:
       (1) ``Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical services'', 
     $1,800,000,000.
       (2) ``Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical support and 
     compliance'', $200,000,000.
       (3) ``Department of Veterans Affairs, Medical facilities'', 
     $400,000,000.
       Sec. 226.  The Secretary of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs shall notify the Committees on Appropriations of both 
     Houses of Congress of all bid savings in major construction 
     projects that total at least $5,000,000, or 5 percent of the 
     programmed amount of the project, whichever is less: 
     Provided, That such notification shall occur within 14 days 
     of a contract identifying the programmed amount: Provided 
     further, That the Secretary shall notify the committees 14 
     days prior to the obligation of such bid savings and shall 
     describe the anticipated use of such savings.
       Sec. 227.  The scope of work for a project included in 
     ``Construction, major projects'' may not be increased above 
     the scope specified for that project in the original 
     justification data provided to the Congress as part of the 
     request for appropriations.
       Sec. 228.  The Secretary of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs shall provide on a quarterly basis to the Committees 
     on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress notification of 
     any single national outreach and awareness marketing campaign 
     in which obligations exceed $2,000,000.
       Sec. 229.  The Secretary of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs shall include in the sufficiency letter required by 
     section 117(d) of title 38, United States Code, that is due 
     to the Congress on July 31 of each year a description of any 
     changes exceeding $250,000,000 in funding requirements for 
     the Medical Services account resulting from the spring 
     recalculation of the Enrollee Healthcare Projection Model. 
     Any such revised data shall not be modified to align with the 
     pending budget request.
       Sec. 230.  The Secretary of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs shall submit a reprogramming request to the 
     Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress 
     whenever a change of ten percent or more is proposed in 
     funding for the current year or advance year in the Medical 
     Services initiatives listed in the Congressional submission. 
     Such reprogramming may only go forward if the Committees have 
     approved the request or if a period of fourteen days has 
     elapsed.

                    (including rescissions of funds)

       Sec. 231.  Of the discretionary funds made available in 
     Public Law 112-74 to the Department of Veterans Affairs for 
     fiscal year 2013, $62,924,000 are rescinded from ``Medical 
     services'', $12,737,000 are rescinded from ``Medical support 
     and compliance'', and $5,593,000 are rescinded from ``Medical 
     facilities''. Amounts rescinded in this section shall be 
     derived from amounts that would otherwise have been available 
     for the increase in civilian pay for fiscal year 2013 
     proposed in the President's request.
       Sec. 232. (a) The amounts otherwise made available by this 
     Act for the following accounts of the Department of Veterans 
     Affairs are hereby reduced by the following amounts: 
       (1) ``Veterans Health Administration--Medical and 
     prosthetic research'', $809,000.
       (2) ``National Cemetery Administration'', $360,000.
       (3) ``Departmental Administration--General 
     administration'', $1,575,000.
       (4) ``Departmental Administration--General operating 
     expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration'', $6,100,000.
       (5) ``Departmental Administration--Information technology 
     systems'', $3,250,000.
       (6) ``Departmental Administration--Office of Inspector 
     General'', $450,000.
       (b) Amounts reduced in subsection (a) shall be derived from 
     amounts that would otherwise have been available for the 
     increase in civilian pay for 2013 proposed in the President's 
     fiscal year 2013 budget request.

                               TITLE III

                            RELATED AGENCIES

                  American Battle Monuments Commission

                         salaries and expenses

       For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, of the 
     American Battle Monuments Commission, including the 
     acquisition of land or interest in land in foreign countries; 
     purchases and repair of uniforms for caretakers of national 
     cemeteries and monuments outside of the United States and its 
     territories and possessions; rent of office and garage space 
     in foreign countries; purchase (one-for-one replacement basis 
     only) and hire of passenger motor vehicles; not to exceed 
     $7,500 for official reception and representation expenses; 
     and insurance of official motor vehicles in foreign 
     countries, when required by law of such countries, 
     $59,290,000, to remain available until expended.

                 foreign currency fluctuations account

       For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, of the 
     American Battle Monuments Commission, such sums as may be 
     necessary, to remain available until expended, for purposes 
     authorized by section 2109 of title 36, United States Code.

           United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

                         salaries and expenses

       For necessary expenses for the operation of the United 
     States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims as authorized by 
     sections 7251 through 7298 of title 38, United States Code, 
     $31,187,000 Provided, That $2,726,000 shall be available for 
     the purpose of providing financial assistance as described, 
     and in accordance with the process and reporting procedures 
     set forth, under this heading in Public Law 102 229.

                      Department of Defense--Civil

                       Cemeterial Expenses, Army

                         salaries and expenses

       For necessary expenses, as authorized by law, for 
     maintenance, operation, and improvement of Arlington National 
     Cemetery and Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery, 
     including the purchase or lease of passenger motor vehicles 
     for replacement on a one-for-one basis only, and not to 
     exceed $1,000 for official reception and representation 
     expenses, $173,733,000, to remain available until expended, 
     of which, not less than $84,000,000 shall be for the 
     Millennium Project. In addition, such sums as may be 
     necessary for parking maintenance, repairs and replacement, 
     to be derived from the ``Lease of Department of Defense Real 
     Property for Defense Agencies'' account. Funds appropriated 
     under this Act may be provided to Arlington County, Virginia, 
     for the relocation of the federally owned water main at 
     Arlington National Cemetery making additional land available 
     for ground burials.

                      Armed Forces Retirement Home

                               trust fund

       For expenses necessary for the Armed Forces Retirement Home 
     to operate and maintain the Armed Forces Retirement Home--
     Washington, District of Columbia, and the Armed Forces 
     Retirement Home--Gulfport, Mississippi, to be paid from funds 
     available in the Armed Forces Retirement Home Trust Fund, 
     $67,590,000, of which $2,000,000 shall remain available until 
     expended for construction and renovation of the physical 
     plants at the Armed Forces Retirement Home--Washington, 
     District of Columbia, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home--
     Gulfport, Mississippi.

                                TITLE IV

                    OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS

                         Department of Defense

              Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       For an additional amount for ``Military Construction, Navy 
     and Marine Corps'', $150,768,000, to remain available until 
     September 30, 2013: Provided, That such amount

[[Page H3331]]

     is designated by the Congress for Overseas Contingency 
     Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to section 
     251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit 
     Control Act of 1985.

                       Administrative Provisions

                    (including rescission of funds)

       Sec. 401.  Of the unobligated balances in section 2005 in 
     title X, of Public Law 112-10 and division H in title IV of 
     Public Law 112 74, $150,768,000 are hereby rescinded: 
     Provided, That such amount is designated by the Congress for 
     Overseas Contingency Operations/Global War on Terrorism 
     pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Balanced Budget 
     and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
       Sec. 402.  Availability of funds.--Each amount designated 
     in this Act by the Congress for Overseas Contingency 
     Operations/Global War on Terrorism pursuant to section 
     251(b)(2)(A)(ii) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit 
     Control Act of 1985 shall be available (or rescinded, if 
     applicable) only if the President subsequently so designates 
     all such amounts and transmits such designations to the 
     Congress.

                                TITLE V

                           GENERAL PROVISIONS

       Sec. 501.  No part of any appropriation contained in this 
     Act shall remain available for obligation beyond the current 
     fiscal year unless expressly so provided herein.
       Sec. 502.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used for any program, project, or activity, when it is 
     made known to the Federal entity or official to which the 
     funds are made available that the program, project, or 
     activity is not in compliance with any Federal law relating 
     to risk assessment, the protection of private property 
     rights, or unfunded mandates.
       Sec. 503.  No part of any funds appropriated in this Act 
     shall be used by an agency of the executive branch, other 
     than for normal and recognized executive-legislative 
     relationships, for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for 
     the preparation, distribution, or use of any kit, pamphlet, 
     booklet, publication, radio, television, or film presentation 
     designed to support or defeat legislation pending before 
     Congress, except in presentation to Congress itself.
       Sec. 504.  All departments and agencies funded under this 
     Act are encouraged, within the limits of the existing 
     statutory authorities and funding, to expand their use of 
     ``E-Commerce'' technologies and procedures in the conduct of 
     their business practices and public service activities.
       Sec. 505.  Unless stated otherwise, all reports and 
     notifications required by this Act shall be submitted to the 
     Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, 
     and Related Agencies of the Committee on Appropriations of 
     the House of Representatives and the Subcommittee on Military 
     Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies of 
     the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.
       Sec. 506.  Hereafter, none of the funds made available in 
     this Act may be transferred to any department, agency, or 
     instrumentality of the United States Government except 
     pursuant to a transfer made by, or transfer authority 
     provided in, this or any other appropriations Act.
       Sec. 507.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used for a project or program named for an individual 
     serving as a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner of 
     the United States House of Representatives.
       Sec. 508. (a) Any agency receiving funds made available in 
     this Act, shall, subject to subsections (b) and (c), post on 
     the public website of that agency any report required to be 
     submitted by the Congress in this or any other Act, upon the 
     determination by the head of the agency that it shall serve 
     the national interest.
       (b) Subsection (a) shall not apply to a report if--
       (1) the public posting of the report compromises national 
     security; or
       (2) the report contains confidential or proprietary 
     information.
       (c) The head of the agency posting such report shall do so 
     only after such report has been made available to the 
     requesting Committee or Committees of Congress for no less 
     than 45 days.
       Sec. 509. (a) None of the funds made available in this Act 
     may be used to maintain or establish a computer network 
     unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and 
     exchanging of pornography.
       (b) Nothing in subsection (a) shall limit the use of funds 
     necessary for any Federal, State, tribal, or local law 
     enforcement agency or any other entity carrying out criminal 
     investigations, prosecution, or adjudication activities.
       Sec. 510.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be distributed to the Association of Community Organizations 
     for Reform Now (ACORN) or its subsidiaries or successors.
       Sec. 511.  None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made 
     available in this Act may be used by an agency of the 
     executive branch to exercise the power of eminent domain (to 
     take the private property for public use) without the payment 
     of just compensation.
       Sec. 512. (a) In General.--None of the funds appropriated 
     or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense in 
     this Act may be used to construct, renovate, or expand any 
     facility in the United States, its territories, or 
     possessions to house any individual detained at United States 
     Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the purposes of 
     detention or imprisonment in the custody or under the control 
     of the Department of Defense.
       (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) shall not apply to 
     any modification of facilities at United States Naval 
     Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
       (c) An individual described in this subsection is any 
     individual who, as of June 24, 2009, is located at United 
     States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and who--
       (1) is not a citizen of the United States or a member of 
     the Armed Forces of the United States; and
       (2) is--
       (A) in the custody or under the effective control of the 
     Department of Defense; or
       (B) otherwise under detention at United States Naval 
     Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
       Sec. 513.  None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made 
     available in this Act may be used by an agency of the 
     executive branch to pay for first-class travel by an employee 
     of the agency in contravention of sections 301 10.122 through 
     301 10.124 of title 41, Code of Federal Regulations.
       Sec. 514.  None of the funds provided in this Act may be 
     used to execute a contract for goods or services, including 
     construction services, where the contractor has not complied 
     with Executive Order No. 12989.
       Sec. 515.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to enter into a contract, memorandum of 
     understanding, or cooperative agreement with, make a grant 
     to, or provide a loan or loan guarantee to any corporation 
     that was convicted (or had an officer or agent of such 
     corporation acting on behalf of the corporation convcited) of 
     a felony criminal violation under any Federal law within the 
     preceding 24 months, where the awarding agency is aware of 
     the conviction, unless the agency has considered suspension 
     or debarment of the corporation, or such officer or agent, 
     and made a determination that this further action is not 
     necessary to protect the interests of the Government.
       Sec. 516.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to enter into a contract, memorandum of 
     understanding, or cooperative agreement with, make a grant 
     to, or provide a loan or loan guarantee to, any corporation 
     that any unpaid Federal tax liability that has been assessed, 
     for which all judicial and administrative remedies have been 
     exhausted or have lapsed, and that is not being paid in a 
     timely manner pursuant to an agreement with the authority 
     responsible for collecting the tax liability, where the 
     awarding agency is aware of the unpaid tax liability, unless 
     the agency has considered suspension or debarment of the 
     corporation and made a determination that this further action 
     is not necessary to protect the interests of the Government.

  Mr. CULBERSON (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous 
consent that the remainder of the bill through page 65, line 16, be 
considered as read, printed in the Record, and open for amendment at 
any point.
  The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman 
from Texas?
  There was no objection.
  The Acting CHAIR. Are there any amendments to that portion of the 
bill?
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Sec. 517.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used by any Government authority or agent thereof awarding 
     a construction contract on behalf of the Government, in any 
     solicitations, bid specifications, project agreements, or 
     other controlling documents, to require or prohibit bidders, 
     offerors, contractors, or subcontractors to enter into or 
     adhere to agreements with one or more labor organizations; 
     nor shall such funds be used to discriminate against or give 
     preference to such bidders, offerors, contractors, or 
     subcontractors based on their entering or refusing to enter 
     into such agreements. The previous sentence does not apply to 
     construction contracts awarded before the date of the 
     enactment of this Act.


                     Amendment Offered by Mr. Grimm

  Mr. GRIMM. I offer my amendment to strike the anti-Project Labor 
Agreement language in section 517.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 65, beginning on line 17, strike section 517.

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New York is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. GRIMM. Mr. Chairman, construction is an inherently complex 
endeavor. Any owner funding a construction project faces a variety of 
challenges, such as time and cost constraints, maintaining quality 
control, safety, and of course recruiting a skilled workforce. Public 
and private project owners are always looking for effective ways to 
meet demand and manage risks to the financial investors of those 
projects, whether they're funded through private investors or by the 
taxpayers, as is the case here with military construction projects.

[[Page H3332]]

  Project labor agreements are a proven tool to accomplish these 
objectives. The PLA is a pre-hire agreement and business model that 
increases efficiency and quality while decreasing the overall cost of a 
construction project since it is based on employing skilled craftsmen 
and -women. Use of a PLA increases the chance that a project will be 
done right the first time, on time, and on budget. This also helps to 
ensure future building maintenance costs are reduced, providing long-
term benefits to the taxpayer.
  However, section 517 in practical terms would deny the DOD and other 
Agencies the option to use a PLA business model even if they determine 
that using one would best serve the interest of taxpayers. At a time 
when Federal Agencies are required to do more with less, it does not 
make sense to remove this proven, cost-effective, and efficient option 
that saves taxpayers money.
  Also, enacting a strict prohibition on the use of PLAs represents a 
regulatory barrier imposed by the Federal Government on free market 
participation. Companies like Wal-Mart, Toyota, Boeing, just to name a 
few, all currently use this type of business model because of these 
very same advantages that I mentioned.
  Recently, I toured the 75-story Beekman building in New York City 
which, without the use of a PLA, would have been capped at 40 stories. 
And since we're talking about public projects, according to an audit 
commissioned by the New York City School Construction Authority, these 
agreements saved taxpayers over $221 million--$221 million--from 2005 
to 2009. In 2009, Mayor Bloomberg projected that PLAs would save New 
York City over $300 million.
  And as a veteran myself, I have to point out that this is one of the 
only business models that guarantees the hiring of military veterans 
and results in career job training. Taking this option away would 
disadvantage the DOD, the VA, and, most importantly, our returning 
servicemen and -women seeking jobs to support themselves and their 
families.
  Therefore, I urge you to vote ``yes'' on this amendment and to strike 
the language from the bill that disadvantages the DOD, VA, American 
taxpayers, and our military veterans.
  I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pascrell).
  Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Chairman, I stand today with my colleague from New 
York (Mr. Grimm) to support the working men and women of this great 
Nation.
  You might take a quick look at section 517 of this legislation, the 
appropriations bill, and think it doesn't stop the Department of 
Defense from using a project labor agreement. But you must know, in 
reality, this confusing language is carefully hiding a back door, a 
back door opening to do away with PLAs.
  Specifically, while currently the Department of Defense can choose 
whether they want to use a PLA, this language would prohibit even the 
option of choice whether to use a PLA. That's unacceptable.
  This amendment doesn't dictate using PLAs. It just gives the Defense 
Department back the option to use them. Agencies like the Department of 
Defense need the flexibility and choice to use PLAs because of the 
variables they face in doing their job--from security issues, a very 
critical part of every contract; onsite safety, just as critical; to 
the skills needed to build unique facilities and structures.
  Furthermore, the use of PLAs establishes a required skill level for 
what the project and the government require or desire, ensuring that 
these highly sensitive and complex projects are performed on time and 
on budget.
  Let's cut to the chase, Mr. Chairman. The jobs where PLAs are used 
require higher skill sets.
  The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman from New York has 
expired.
  (On request of Mr. Dicks, and by unanimous consent, Mr. Grimm was 
allowed to proceed for 2 additional minutes.)
  Mr. GRIMM. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

                              {time}  1810

  Mr. PASCRELL. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  The jobs where PLAs are used require higher skills, higher wages for 
engineers and laborers. Undercutting their ability to bid on contracts 
will not only hurt the project and the Department of Defense's bottom 
line, but it will also hurt the working men and women who are building 
our future.
  I urge a ``yes'' vote on the Grimm amendment.
  Mr. GRIMM. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I'm the first one to be a strong 
advocate of the 10th Amendment. As a Jeffersonian, I really believe 
very strongly in the whole idea of individual liberty and letting local 
governments make local decisions and State governments make decisions 
at the State level.
  In some States, as in New Jersey and New York, certainly the labor 
union movement is very strong and PLAs may work in those States. It 
certainly may make sense in New York or New Jersey, but Texas is a 
right-to-work State, and proudly so. We don't have many labor unions--
in fact, very few at all. In the construction industry in particular, 
there really are no unionized construction firms. There are none.
  So if the President's executive order--which he issued almost as soon 
as he came in, President Obama signed an executive order that said the 
President of the United States--now, just imagine if you're the head of 
a local VA and you get an order from the President of the United States 
saying the President recommends that you, as the head of the VA, hire a 
construction firm that uses a project labor agreement, you're probably 
going to follow that advice. It is impossible to do that in the State 
of Texas.
  My friend from Arizona, Arizona is a right-to-work State. Many States 
across the country are right to work. We don't have labor unions. I 
believe Georgia is a right-to-work State. We don't have a State income 
tax in Texas. We don't have many labor unions. Trial lawyers have to 
really have a good lawsuit before they can go to the courthouse. Taxes 
are generally low. The streets are safe. We've got, in Texas, a 
thundering economy.
  If I recall right, Texas has created most of the jobs in this Nation 
over the last 10 years. And one of the reasons Texas' economy is so 
strong is we don't have many labor unions. But of course that's up to 
us in Texas. And people have been voting with their feet and moving to 
Texas. We've had tremendous influx of people from other parts of the 
country.
  The language that is in the bill, my good friend from New York, my 
friend from New Jersey, the language in the bill does not prohibit the 
use of project labor agreements; it really doesn't. The language was 
carefully written so that the government cannot discriminate against or 
give preference to a construction firm that uses PLAs. Nor can the 
government--and I'm going to read it here exactly--nor can the 
government require a contractor to enter into or adhere to a project 
labor agreement.
  A project labor agreement--I need to make sure folks understand what 
we're talking about--is essentially a requirement that if you want to 
do business with the Federal Government, you have to unionize your 
shop. That doesn't make any sense in Texas, it doesn't make any sense 
in Georgia, it doesn't make any sense in Arizona where we have no 
unionized contractors--or virtually none, to my knowledge. You can't 
build a house, you can't build a building in Houston, Texas, if you 
require the use of a unionized contractor. They don't exist.

  Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. CULBERSON. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
  Mr. DICKS. The distinguished chairman--who does a great job, and 
we're trying to work together--if we understand this, a non-union shop 
can be considered for work under a project labor agreement. You don't 
have to be a union shop. So a non-union company can do it. All they 
have to do is to agree to the terms that are part of the project labor 
agreement; in other words, that they will use the wages and other 
standards that the project labor agreement has. If they will abide by 
that, then they can be considered for

[[Page H3333]]

work. So that doesn't mean that there aren't any.
  Thank you for yielding.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Reclaiming my time, you're right. And that's the 
problem, my friend, Mr. Dicks, from Washington State. Truly, you're 
exactly right. The VA can and will require a nonunion contractor in 
Texas to unionize before they can even----
  Mr. DICKS. No, no, no, no. If the gentleman will yield?
  Mr. CULBERSON. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
  Mr. DICKS. They don't have to unionize. They just have to agree to 
the prevailing wage and other things that are part of the project labor 
agreement, but they don't have to be unionized.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Yes, sir. That's correct. I'm about to run out of 
time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  (By unanimous consent, Mr. Culberson was allowed to proceed for 2 
additional minutes.)
  Mr. CULBERSON. If I could point out, the gentleman from Washington is 
correct; on this vote, they're not required to unionize, but they're 
required to adopt the higher prevailing wage. They're required to adopt 
all the other higher, more expensive standards that a union may 
require. That puts that contractor at an immediate competitive 
disadvantage with all of the other contractors out there.
  There are no unionized--or very few unionized contractors in Houston, 
Texas--throughout the whole State, and that's the problem. While 
perhaps in New York, while perhaps in New Jersey, while perhaps in 
Washington State PLAs may actually wind up saving you money--for 
reasons mysterious to me as a free market guy, but it may save you 
money.
  This language does not prohibit the use of a unionized contractor in 
New York. Let me repeat, in the brief time I've got left: none of the 
funds in this act can be used to discriminate against or give 
preference to a union shop, and the government cannot require a 
contractor to enter into an agreement. So, you see, the language, as 
written, we're all on the same page here, guys. This language does not 
require unionization. It doesn't force a non-union shop to adopt a 
prevailing wage, for example. And it enables everyone to bid without 
discrimination.
  Our concern is, with the President's executive order, which says that 
the President of the United States encourages the local VA to hire a 
contractor that follows union guidelines, they don't exist in Texas. 
That makes no sense. That's why the gentleman from Arizona wrote this 
amendment this way. And that's why it's important that the House defeat 
this amendment to save taxpayer dollars and to allow non-union 
contractors in right-to-work States to compete for these government 
construction projects.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time and thank you for 
the extra time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong support of this 
amendment.
  The language included in the bill says that none of the funds made 
available by this act may be used by any government authority or agent 
thereof awarding a construction contract on behalf of the government, 
and any solicitations, bids, specifications, project agreements, or 
other controlling documents, to require or prohibit bidders, offerers, 
contractors, and subcontractors to enter into or adhere to agreements 
with one or more labor organizations. Language currently included 
essentially nullifies the decisionmaking ability of not only the 
Department of Defense, but also the Department of Veterans Affairs, the 
American Battle Monuments Commission, the Court of Appeals for Veterans 
Claims, and Arlington National Cemetery to use a PLA business model.
  To put it another way, all of these agencies currently have two 
choices: yes, we want to use a PLA, or no, we don't want to use a PLA. 
Without this amendment, the agencies will no longer be able to make 
that yes or no choice. If this language is maintained, then every 
agency in this bill will literally not be able to make a decision on 
the business model that they want to use for their construction 
projects.
  The language is a backdoor way to ensure that the project labor 
agreement business model is not available as an option for the Federal 
Government to even consider using on any of the construction projects 
in the bill.
  Keeping this language would be a mistake since PLAs ensure that 
construction projects are built correctly the first time, on time, and 
as a result, on budget for the end-user. Furthermore, PLAs prevent 
costly delays that usually result from an unskilled workforce's lack of 
knowledge regarding the use of building materials or tools, as well as 
job site safety measures.
  Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, we don't know the effect this language 
could have on VA projects. And I don't believe that this Congress 
should include any language that could further delay vital Veterans 
Affairs projects.
  I find this language to be unclear and believe it will only add 
uncertainty and confusion to the construction process. I don't 
understand why we would take this option off the table. If a project 
labor agreement is good for Toyota, or Boeing, or Wal-Mart, why isn't 
it good enough for the Federal Government?

                              {time}  1820

  I urge all the Members to vote ``yes'' on the Grimm amendment. It's 
sound, and it will help us to get our construction done on time and on 
budget and safely.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. FLAKE. I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Arizona is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, I have enjoyed hearing this, and I would 
say, if the gentleman from New York, if what he were saying were 
correct, he would be right and I think all of us would vote for this 
amendment. But he's not. He's not right.
  The amendment, the language he seeks to strike does not forbid or 
prohibit the use of PLAs. You don't have to take my word for it. I was 
the author of the amendment, and we expressly did it so as not to 
prohibit or allow or anything. It would simply be neutral.
  And this is what CRS said. So you can say all you want about motives 
or anything else, but this is what CRS said. They wrote back to us and 
said:

       Based on the plain language of the amendment's text, PLAs 
     for military construction projects would not be forbidden.

  Again, ``would not be forbidden.'' It is expressly--let me read that 
again so I'll be clear.

       Based on the plain language of the amendment's text, PLAs 
     for military construction projects would not be forbidden, as 
     it expressly provides that ``[n]one of the funds made 
     available by this act may be used by any government authority 
     . . . to require or prohibit . . . bidders . . . to enter 
     into . . . agreements with one or more labor organizations.''

  Here we have it. It's neutral. That's what we're intending to do. The 
problem is what we sought to correct with the amendment in committee 
was when the President issued this executive order. The executive 
order, in itself, does not expressly prohibit nonunion organizations or 
shops from getting a contract. But what Federal agencies have 
interpreted it as meaning is that they should favor PLAs. And so 
certain Federal agencies have written guidance, based on the 
President's executive order, that actually favor PLAs. And that's 
wrong.
  And so all the amendment seeks to do is put it back on neutral 
ground, to keep the thumb of the President or this body or Republicans 
or Democrats or anybody off the scale in this regard. That's what this 
language that the gentleman is seeking to strike does. It brings 
neutrality that has been missing after the President's executive order.
  Again, when the President issued his executive order, some Federal 
agencies took that to mean that they would have to or could require the 
use of PLAs, and that means that the thumb is placed on the scale in 
favor of PLAs. So this language was drafted to make it neutral again. 
That's what it does.
  If this amendment here is adopted, it will put a thumb back on the 
scale, and we can't have that. So you can say all you want about 
motives, what they really want to do, or this is a back door or 
whatever. But if you look at the amendment, again, from CRS, not from

[[Page H3334]]

me, says that it doesn't require or prohibit, so it's neutral.
  Mr. GRIMM. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. FLAKE. I will yield first to the gentleman from Washington, but 
only briefly.
  Mr. DICKS. It will be very brief.
  The Office of General Counsel of the Department of Defense says about 
the gentleman's amendment:

       If enacted, the attached provision would prohibit the 
     Department from soliciting bids for FY13-funded construction 
     contracts where, as a mandatory condition of award, the 
     awardee must negotiate a project labor agreement with one or 
     more labor organizations for the term of the resulting 
     construction contract.

  Mr. FLAKE. Reclaiming my time.
  Mr. DICKS. That means they can't do it.
  Mr. FLAKE. No. There's an important word there, ``mandatory.'' It 
wouldn't allow the mandatory use. It's back to neutrality.
  Mr. DICKS. That's not what they think. They think that if your 
language does what I think you----
  Mr. FLAKE. That's what you just read.
  Mr. DICKS. Well, that's not how they interpret it.
  Mr. FLAKE. I'm not sure if they know what they're interpreting then. 
But CRS, which looks at this, says it's neutral, so make no mistake----
  Mr. GRIMM. Will the gentleman yield for a question on CRS?
  Mr. DICKS. If it's neutral, what does it do then?
  Mr. GRIMM. Did CRS actually speak to these agencies?
  Mr. FLAKE. If they spoke to the agency----
  Mr. GRIMM. Does the gentleman know if they spoke to the agencies? Did 
the gentleman speak to these agencies to see how they would interpret 
it?
  Mr. FLAKE. We don't have to because the agencies have issued guidance 
that we can look at where they have interpreted the President's 
executive order as to require the use of PLAs. That's why we offered 
the amendment.

  Mr. GRIMM. Exactly. And the amendment that you have in is going to be 
interpreted to preclude them from using PLAs.
  Mr. FLAKE. No, it doesn't.
  Mr. DICKS. Well, what does it do then?
  Mr. FLAKE. It simply takes the thumb off the scale that's there right 
now because these agencies have issued guidance. Now, you can say that 
the agencies may take this as a thumb on the other side of the scale.
  Mr. GRIMM. That's exactly what I'm saying.
  Mr. FLAKE. Nobody can control what they're doing. But this language 
simply makes it neutral, and that's what I'm trying to correct here.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. Mr. Chairman, I hadn't planned on speaking on this 
amendment--there are plenty of other voices to do it--but I argued 
against this amendment in committee. I repeatedly argue against this 
amendment. I really don't know why we have to repeat this exercise, 
other than it won by one vote the other time, and we're going to 
correct that mistake tonight, I will tell you.
  But the author of the amendment--the amendment is a wolf in sheep's 
clothing in that the gentleman offering the amendment isn't in favor of 
project labor agreements. As a matter of fact, all the people who have 
spoken----
  Are you in favor of project labor agreements? I don't want to slight 
you if you are.
  I yield to the gentleman.
  Mr. FLAKE. Wherever they make sense, that's fine. I just don't want a 
finger on the scale either way.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. I hear you. And if that was true, the wording of your 
amendment would be----
  Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield just briefly on that point?
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
  Mr. DICKS. Just briefly, the President doesn't require that they use 
a project labor agreement. He just suggests that they might be able to 
use it. That's pretty neutral.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. Reclaiming my time, well, let me say this. You know, 
I do agree with the gentleman from Arizona, which I very rarely do, 
that, in fact, under this administration, there's sort of a feeling 
that we should have PLAs, which I happen to think is a good thing into 
my part of the world. However, this language is almost identical to the 
Bartlett amendment that was in the defense authorization.
  To my belief, this was written by the Associated Builders and 
Contractors, and the Associated Builders and Contractors are not in 
favor of project labor agreements. Neither are most of the people, 
including Mr. Culberson. He's very proud of the fact that they don't 
have any unions in Texas. Well, we've got them in Ohio.
  And I'll tell you, here's the difficulty with this and why this is a 
wolf in sheep's clothing. What the problem is is, if an agency 
determines that they want to proceed with a project labor agreement, 
this language prohibits them from doing it because it prohibits any 
contractor or subcontractor who may bid a piece of that job to be 
required to enter into a union contract. And that's the difficulty, 
because if the agency, independent, without any thumbs on the scale, 
says, You know what--well, I've got to tell you, CRS is wrong. CRS is 
flat-out wrong. They're a great organization. They're flat-out wrong.
  But what this does is say that if the agency, and let's just take one 
that's in the news here in Washington, D.C. So the Metropolitan Airport 
Authority that controls the three airports in this area decides they 
want to do a project labor agreement, the board votes that way to do a 
project labor agreement on the silver line which is going out to Dulles 
Airport and it's covered by this bill, they cannot do a project labor 
agreement because this language isn't neutrality. This language says 
you can't have a project labor agreement because nobody, subcontractors 
can't be required to the terms and conditions that would be in a 
project labor agreement.
  So make no mistake about it, CRS notwithstanding, this is to kill 
project labor agreements. And if you have that position, that's a great 
position. You can have that position. Mr. Culberson, I believe, has 
that position.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I do.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. He does. I know he does, and we've talked about this. 
And you know what? He can have that position.
  But what you can't do is bring an amendment to the floor that 
pretends to do one thing and, in fact, does another.
  If you don't want project labor agreements to even be considered, 
vote against Mr. Grimm's amendment. If you think that they should be in 
the mix, you need to vote for it.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. I am happy to yield to my friend from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Our point was that in right-to-work States where we 
have virtually no labor unions, we don't want contractors to be 
required to adopt prevailing wages or adopt union guidelines in order 
to bid on a contract. And in States like yours, Ohio, New York, New 
Jersey, you should be free to do so.
  And I think the way, truly, if I may, the way the amendment is 
written, we have obviously a difference of opinion, but it is written 
very clearly that the government cannot require or prohibit contractors 
from adopting these PLAs, so it leaves it really up to the local VA to 
decide whether they're going to bid it out to a nonunion shop or a 
union shop, depending on the State. In your State, fine. In Texas, you 
know, we're a nonunion State.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. Let me take back my time and say that I think it's 
unfortunate that Texas doesn't feel they have to pay living wages for 
construction jobs. But beyond that, let me say that, if the language 
said that, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But the language 
doesn't say that.

                              {time}  1830

  So let's say the VA down in Texas makes a determination that they 
want to do a project in Texas under a project labor agreement. They 
can't do it. They can't do it under this language. They are deprived of 
doing it because, to have a project labor agreement, they would be 
forced to require the contractors and subcontractors to abide by the

[[Page H3335]]

terms and conditions of that agreement. I'm telling you that that's 
what it says, John, honest to gosh. There is a better way to write 
this. This wasn't written by friends of PLAs, and it needs to be 
passed.
  The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  (By unanimous consent, Mr. LaTourette was allowed to proceed for 2 
additional minutes.)
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. I yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Culberson).
  Mr. CULBERSON. I think we're headed in the same place, which is that 
you'd like to preserve the ability to hire union contractors in Ohio, 
New York, and New Jersey. We share that. I have no objection. Under the 
10th Amendment, if that's what you guys want to do, God bless you.
  So what I would ask is that perhaps we could postpone the 
consideration of this amendment briefly. Would you guys come up with 
some language to amend Mr. Flake's language to make it even clearer in 
your mind; so let New Jersey run New Jersey and New York run New York 
and Ohio run New York, and let Texans run Texas?
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. We don't want Ohio to run New York. I think the 
gentleman misspoke.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I want Ohio to run Ohio.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. We've got enough stuff going on in Ohio.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will you offer an amendment, because you're a very 
capable legislator, and may we postpone the consideration of this 
amendment briefly so that you could amend his language to let Texans 
run Texas and Arizona run Arizona and Ohio run Ohio?
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. And you're a gifted orator.
  A couple of things. One, I appreciate the gentleman's invitation, but 
I don't want to postpone the consideration of the amendment.
  Mr. CULBERSON. We've got other work.
  Mr. LaTOURETTE. There is going to be a rolled vote, I assume. You're 
not going to take extra real time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. No, but we could fix this, though. Let's fix this.

  Mr. LaTOURETTE. There is going to be a rolled vote, and I will be 
happy to work with the gentleman; but we're going to stand on the Grimm 
amendment in case we can't come to some accomodation, which I hope we 
can, not written by the ABC.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Massachusetts is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  Mr. LYNCH. In my own experience before coming to Congress, I was 
actually an ironworker for about 18 years. I have actually run work on 
projects with PLAs. I've been a general foreman on a large, complex 
construction project such as the ones that are covered by this bill. 
These large projects are $25 million and over, so it's not somebody 
who's throwing up a house here or there. I also worked in Louisiana, 
and we had a PLA where half the job was union and half the job was 
nonunion. There are situations in which PLAs are extremely important 
and extremely helpful. This bill would prohibit that from happening.
  The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. LaTourette) is absolutely correct in his 
interpretation of the language of the bill. For instance, if the VA, 
which is right now considering building a spinal cord injury hospital 
in Brockton, Massachusetts, would like to put an agreement on that 
project that says they want 30 percent of the workers or 50 percent of 
the workers on this job to be United States veterans, they would not be 
able to put that language into effect because they would not be able to 
require a contractor to sign an agreement to hire veterans on a VA 
project. That's exactly what's wrong with the bill.
  Mr. Grimm has a very good amendment. It is on point. He is absolutely 
right. I know this from my own work on PLA projects. This amendment 
seeks to strike a provision from the underlying bill which would 
prevent any Federal agency from requiring contractors to sign a project 
labor agreement.
  Now, PLAs have been highly efficient in coordinating many, many 
contractors on these complex construction projects. Despite the 
arguments of some, PLAs are not a guarantee of union employment. Under 
a PLA agreement, construction contractors can hire people regardless of 
union or nonunion status. What it does do is requires that contractors 
abide by the law. There is also great scrutiny on these projects. They 
are required to properly classify their workers, as the gentleman from 
Texas pointed out, on some jobs where there otherwise might be illegal 
immigrant workers on those projects. That doesn't happen on a PLA 
project because they've all got to be citizens.
  We have a Helmets to Hardhats program that's run by the building 
trades. They actually make sure that especially our returning veterans 
from Iraq and Afghanistan get the first crack at those jobs--Helmets to 
Hardhats, from the military right into those apprenticeship programs--
so that we train our young men and women coming back from Afghanistan 
and Iraq a skilled trade. The PLAs are most commonly used on large, 
multiyear projects that are complex and that present considerable 
difficulty for contractors to bid those jobs.
  The key here is that under current law Federal agencies--the VA at 
the spinal cord injury hospital or the DOD if they're building a 
defense complex--can use a PLA when appropriate. They can put an 
agreement together that makes sure, if you've got a plumber on the job, 
he's properly licensed, or if you've got an electrician on the job, 
he's properly licensed; and they abide by a drug-free workplace 
program. They can put in a lot of good things that make sure that that 
project comes in on budget and ahead of schedule. What this would do 
would be to prevent the VA or the DOD from requiring that on a job.
  It's the worst contractors who are afraid of this agreement because 
they would be required to comply with the law. They would be required 
to have workers' comp. They would be required to meet with the OSHA and 
safety regulations. The construction industry--I worked in it for 18 
years--is a very dangerous industry, and sometimes it costs more to run 
a safe job.
  Look, PLAs are a good idea. We should continue, when appropriate, to 
allow these Federal agencies to use them on these construction 
projects. They're a good idea, and up to now they've been evenly 
administered. This bill would change that dynamic. It would basically 
ban the VA from requiring that veterans be used on those projects or 
ban the DOD from saying, Look, we want to have veterans on this 
project; 50 percent of the workers on this project we want to be 
veterans. It's entirely appropriate for the VA or the DOD to do that. 
They would be prohibited from doing that under the language in this 
bill.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. WALBERG. I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Michigan is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. WALBERG. Before I let a train of thought go, I yield 30 seconds 
to my good friend from Arizona (Mr. Flake).
  Mr. FLAKE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  I just want to say first that the gentleman mentioned that he thought 
that this bill had been written by the Associated Builders and 
Contractors. That's not the case. This issue was first brought to my 
attention after a meeting my office had with the Army Corps of 
Engineers. So a government agency brought it to our attention.
  Second, we are trying to bring back the same neutrality that existed 
during the Bush administration, which was before this President put the 
finger on the scale. During the Bush administration, during that 8 
years in which we had the neutrality like this amendment of mine 
returns to, there were contracts awarded with project labor agreements 
and there were contracts awarded without them. That's what neutrality 
does. Where it makes sense to use a PLA, it's used. When it doesn't 
make sense, it isn't. It's neutrality. That's what this bill returns 
to. That's why this amendment should be rejected.
  Mr. WALBERG. I thank the gentleman from Arizona, and I thank him for 
his amendment. I support it, but I respectfully do not support the 
Grimm amendment.

[[Page H3336]]

  I'm from Michigan. Michigan takes no backseat in this country to 
union labor. It is the returning auto capital of the world. It's a 
proud union State, and there is a proud, solid union workforce in 
Michigan. Just this past summer, the State legislature, in majority 
with the Governor's concurring and signing, signed into law a 
prohibition against the mandatory requirement of PLAs in government 
contracts. The State of Michigan, with its 10th Amendment 
responsibilities, did that.
  Now, unlike what took place under the past Bush administration, as 
the gentleman from Arizona correctly pointed out, the Federal appellate 
court ruled in favor of doing away with the mandate and leaving 
neutrality there. That's all the provision of this section 517 does. It 
simply restores the neutrality. That's all we're asking: that when PLAs 
make sense and ultimately bring about a better project and an outcome, 
fine; but when they don't, for whatever reason that is, there should be 
no mandate, and there ought to be the opportunity within these 
contracts and within a State like Michigan to make a decision not to go 
with a PLA if that's the best outcome or result.

                              {time}  1840

  Again, this provision in the bill does not prohibit PLAs. It is 
neutrality. Studies have found that PLA mandates increase the cost of 
construction between 12 percent and 18 percent compared to non-PLA 
projects subject to prevailing wage laws. That's a decisionmaking 
process. That's a point that ought to be considered. It doesn't do away 
with PLAs, but it says it ought to be considered in the cost. Shouldn't 
taxpayers have that consideration? Shouldn't quality have that 
consideration?
  PLA mandates typically restrict jobs to construction workers referred 
from union hiring halls, effectively shutting out in Michigan and other 
places 86 percent of the Nation's construction workforce. I don't think 
that's right. However, if it's necessary to have the union workforce 
with a PLA agreement and it will work better and be more efficient--
contrary to these studies--if that's the case, then this provision in 
the act does not do anything except allow neutrality.
  Mr. Chairman, that's what we're asking for, to continue what this 
Congress put in place by a vote last week in saying we believe that 
PLAs are good sometimes, may not be as good other times, and there 
ought to be neutrality and an opportunity for decisionmaking on the 
local level, at the State level, at the contract-construction level 
that meets the best of abilities. Federal agencies should not mandate 
that contractors enter into project labor agreements as a condition of 
winning Federal contracts.
  Again, we're looking at nearly $16 trillion in debt. And when our 
construction industry still suffers--and I can tell you that's the case 
in Michigan in my district--from a 14\1/2\ percent unemployment rate, 
we in Congress should not be tying the hands of taxpayers and 
construction workers by making requirements--with the thumb of the 
President of the United States on the scale--that really disregard the 
will and the opportunity of States like Michigan to make their own 
decisions here.
  I thank the Chair for this opportunity, and I yield back.
  Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chair, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman from Ohio is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Ms. KAPTUR. First, I want to thank Mr. Grimm for offering this 
bipartisan amendment.
  Last year, we saw the same effort to attack project labor agreements 
in the military construction appropriations bill. This House on a 
bipartisan basis made the right choice, and we voted to support 
negotiated contract labor agreements. Why? It's the American way. It's 
the American way to respect the dignity of the individual. Yes, we 
respect their lives, their liberty, and indeed their pursuit of 
happiness. In northern Ohio, we've seen how important project labor 
agreements are. We use them to save lives as skilled laborers perform 
extremely dangerous work that I would dare say almost no one in this 
House is capable of performing.
  These agreements are absolutely essential for workplace safety, for 
ensuring quality construction, and protecting the lives and rights of 
those men and women who perform extremely difficult, sophisticated, and 
superhuman work on a regular basis. I'm reminded in Toledo, Ohio, not 
so long ago we were replacing a major interstate lift bridge--the 
largest transportation project in Ohio history--over $400 million over 
several years.
  We knew we needed a project labor agreement to complete the job with 
as few accidents as possible because we were replacing a lift bridge 
along one of the region's most important interstate highway systems 
adjoining three States. We insisted, and I worked so hard, to achieve a 
project labor agreement for the construction of this complex skyway 
bridge over the Maumee River, the largest river that flows into the 
Great Lakes. I didn't want it to be like Mackinaw Bridge, with the 
names listed for posterity of all the dead workers who were responsible 
for building that bridge, and whose names are left to history.
  We hoped and worked so hard to try to limit the danger to the men and 
women who would build our bridge. We knew we needed a project labor 
agreement to write the rules of the road for that construction project. 
People were literally placing their lives at great risk every single 
day. If you don't believe me, you should have seen those talented 
individuals lofted at hundreds of feet in the air and then in bitterly 
freezing weather trying to put the pieces together above the river to 
construct the giant spires, physically creating the modern 
architectural wonder of the Glass City Skyway, which was dedicated to 
all the veterans of our country. But despite all our noble efforts and 
the safety precautions, our community still lost precious lives in two 
separate tragedies that were avoidable.
  In the middle of February in 2004, one of the cranes collapsed, 
killing four workers and injuring four others. Why did they collapse? 
Because the company decided to cut corners and created a contest 
between which parts of the roadbed would be built faster by separate 
teams of workers. All the inspectors missed what was happening. Four 
workers were killed. I went to every single funeral. I never want to 
have to do that again. I never want to have to try to comfort the 
families of the tragedy that happened. Three years later, another man 
died when the platform he was working on collapsed. I know we would 
have lost more lives, were it not for the project labor agreement, but 
we shouldn't have even lost those lives. Yet, we would have lost more 
lives if there had not been a project labor agreement in place.
  I don't believe in neutrality. Some of my colleagues have talked 
about neutrality. No, there should be no neutrality when it comes to 
workers lives. These workers were helping to build our country's future 
for the benefit of us all. They deserve a safe work environment. They 
deserve to have their lives represented in a contract agreement. The 
value of a completed project is worth more than the concrete, it's 
worth more than the spires, and it's worth more than the metal. It 
should be measured in the dignity of life. But workers were crushed to 
death. Thank God we had an agreement in place. It wasn't neutral. It 
defended those workers who lived. It defended the workers whose lives 
were saved because we knew we were a Nation of laws and that their 
lives were worth everything to us. That's the American way.
  When we as a Nation invest in our physical infrastructure, those that 
are actually building up our country deserve to have their lives 
protected through contracts. Values derives not just from the cost of 
the concrete, but the value of their lives. Support project labor 
agreements, support this amendment.
  I ask my colleagues to vote for the Grimm amendment, and I yield back 
the balance of my time.
  Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Maryland is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Chairman, this discussion is not about safety, and 
it's not about making projects safe or making them more efficient. This 
is about politics. This is about an Executive order the President put 
in place that takes

[[Page H3337]]

jobs out of the First Congressional District of Maryland and other 
districts where there may not be union workforces.
  Mr. Chairman, the unemployment rate is high enough in the First 
Congressional District.
  Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. HARRIS. No, I will not yield.
  The unemployment rate in the First Congressional District of 
Maryland--lower shore of Maryland--is higher than the national average, 
and we don't have union workers. So if some bureaucrat in Washington, 
because of a Presidential Executive order, says we have to have a 
project labor agreement on a project under this bill, under this 
appropriation, unemployed workers in my district aren't going to work 
on that project, and the hardworking taxpayers in my district, as the 
gentleman from Michigan has said, will be paying 12 percent to 18 
percent more of their hard-earned tax dollars to pay for a project 
labor agreement in a district that they don't want that some bureaucrat 
in Washington decided they needed.
  Mr. Chairman, we can't afford that. This country can't afford it. We 
have a $1.3 trillion deficit. We have a debt that approaches $50,000 
per person in this United States. And we're debating tonight about 
whether just to be neutral about language regarding project labor 
agreements.

                              {time}  1850

  The gentleman from Arizona is absolutely right. This is plain English 
reading. It just says that the bureaucrat, for curing that contract, 
can't require a project labor agreement. If someone wants to know bid 
on it, they can bid union labor. They can bid all the union labor they 
want. It just says you can't require it as a condition of the contract.
  Mr. Chairman, we got sent here to do the right thing for our 
hardworking taxpayers back at home, those who want to have a job, who 
want to be involved in some of these Federal contracts. Without this 
provision, if this amendment passes, and this provision is struck from 
the underlying appropriations bill, people in the First Congressional 
District, those unemployed workers are not going to have the 
opportunity to work on those projects for the simple reason that they 
don't belong to a labor union.
  That's what will disqualify them. Not that they're unemployed, not 
that they don't want to work, not that they don't know all the safety 
rules, not that they can't do the job, not that they don't have a 
plumbing license or an electrician's license, because they all have to 
have that license to hold a job. And the proponents of this amendment 
know that full well.
  It's only because they don't belong to a labor union. That's what 
this fight is all about.
  Mr. Chairman, I hesitate to rise to oppose the amendment of the 
gentleman from New York, but in the First Congressional District of 
Maryland this hurts our unemployment situation. This hurts our 
hardworking taxpayers. I rise to oppose the amendment because in 
districts around America, just like the First Congressional District of 
Maryland, this amendment doesn't do justice to those unemployed 
workers.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Washington is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DICKS. Let's get back to some facts here. Under the CRS report 
that was referenced earlier, the National Labor Relations Act, as we 
know, gives most private sector workers the right to join or form a 
labor union and to bargain collectively.
  A project labor agreement is a collective bargaining agreement that 
applies to a specific construction project and lasts only for the 
duration of that project. In February 2009, President Barack Obama 
signed an executive order that encourages Federal Agencies to consider 
requiring the use of project labor agreements on large-scale 
construction projects.
  The EO describes a large-scale project as one where the total cost to 
the Federal Government is $25 million or more. The order States that 
Agencies are not required to use project labor agreements. Regulations 
implementing the executive order went into effect in May 2010.
  Now, if that isn't neutrality, what is neutrality? I think this is a 
big to-do about nothing.
  I mean, this amendment is not necessary. The President didn't mandate 
anybody to do anything. The Agencies decide if it is in the interests 
of the government to do this in a particular case. This administration 
has hardly done any project labor agreements as far as my understanding 
is, at least with the Department of Defense.
  Again, I don't quite understand all of this concern, especially when 
nonunion contractors can be part of the agreement. They can bid, they 
can be part of the agreement as long as they will abide by the law, but 
with the prevailing wage agreements or things of that nature.
  Mr. FLAKE. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from Arizona.
  Mr. FLAKE. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  The reason it's needed, as I mentioned, is because some of the 
Federal Agencies have taken the President's language in the executive 
order to mean that they can require or should require PLAs.
  Mr. DICKS. There is no evidence of that.
  Mr. FLAKE. Yes, there is.
  Mr. DICKS. Tell me who's done project labor agreements?
  Mr. FLAKE. There is. In fact, there was a project in St. Louis, I 
will mention one specifically, under the stimulus funds, frankly, and 
that was a shovel-ready project. But then--and a nonunion shop actually 
offered the low bid, but was refused the contract because the language 
that the President issued, or the executive order, was taken to mean 
that they had to look for a PLA, that they should be encouraged to use 
PLA.
  Mr. DICKS. That's not what it says. That's not what the President's 
statement says.
  Mr. FLAKE. But that's how it has been interpreted. That's why we're 
saying let's make it clear that we can neither forbid nor deny.
  Mr. DICKS. Reclaiming my time, I would just point out that the 
Department of Defense thinks the gentleman from Arizona's language is 
prohibitive, that it doesn't give them any leeway, that they must not 
do a project labor agreement.
  May I ask the Chair how much time I have remaining.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Washington has 1\1/2\ minutes 
remaining.
  Mr. DICKS. I yield to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Grimm), the 
author of the amendment, if he would like to make any further comments 
here.
  Mr. GRIMM. Actually, I would, and I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  I think the point is we're both making each other's point that you 
feel the language of the President is somehow restricting nonunion 
shops from bidding. I firmly feel and strongly feel that the language 
in your amendment absolutely prohibits the use of PLAs.
  I think what we are both looking for is neutrality; but if language 
on either side is not working, we need to come up with a way to make 
this neutral so that everyone can bid and no one is prohibited. I think 
we're saying the same thing, and I think we're working towards that. 
I'm going to work with the chairman.
  For now, my amendment is going to stand, and we're going to work as 
quickly with haste to see if we can come up with something that we can 
all agree with.
  Mr. DICKS. The best and safest thing to do is to defeat the Flake 
amendment. That's kind of a standard. That's the surest way of 
protecting the executive order.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CARNAHAN. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Missouri is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. CARNAHAN. I want to first say thank you to the gentleman from New 
York for his efforts on this amendment and also that he has done this 
in a bipartisan way. I also want to thank President Obama for his 
executive order in doing this to encourage project labor agreements, 
not require

[[Page H3338]]

them. I think they speak for themselves.
  My friends on both sides of the aisle have a responsibility to the 
American people to get both low cost and high quality in job-creating 
military construction projects. Project labor agreements have a proven 
track record to ensure that. We should come together to support the 
Grimm amendment. We can help create fewer cost overruns, faster project 
completion and a fair day's wage for an honest day's work for American 
workers.
  I support the Grimm amendment that strikes the anti-PLA measures in 
the Military Construction appropriations bill.
  PLAs are simply rules of the road for workers and management on 
construction projects. We know they cut taxpayer spending. They save 
time; they save headaches. They create good, local jobs and better 
quality and value. Why would we not want that?
  Very simply, unions prefer PLAs because they treat workers like human 
beings instead of investment capital. Some people here think unions are 
unacceptable. I think those people are wrong. History shows unions have 
largely helped create America's middle class and workers' rights 
enjoyed by all Americans, whether they are members of a union or not.
  I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, if you want to help 
cut spending and improve efficiency, stand with American taxpayers and 
with American workers. Vote for the Grimm amendment. Remove the anti-
PLA language to fix this bill. Let's get it right.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Illinois is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. The longer I listen to this debate, the more 
confusing it becomes.

                              {time}  1900

  I remember a wise man telling me once, You can't get blood out of a 
turnip, but you can slice it, you can dice it, whip it, and do 
everything, but it still ends up being turnip juice.
  I rise in strong support of Mr. Grimm's amendment, and I do so 
because there seems to be a tremendous lack of clarity. It's amazing 
how we can all read the same words but arrive at a different meaning. 
And we can read them over and over and over again. So it would seem to 
me that the best way to have clarity is to make absolutely certain that 
these agencies understand that yes, they do in fact have the authority 
to say yea or nay, yes or no, to entering into project labor 
agreements.
  I'm a strong supporter of organized labor. It doesn't mean that I 
think labor unions are perfect. Oftentimes, many of the people in the 
community where I live feel that they cannot access labor unions; that 
they can't get in, that they can't get membership. Yet and still, I 
think that project labor agreements are the best way to get the quality 
and the assurance that we're getting the best bang for the buck.
  So, again, I reiterate my support for the Grimm amendment, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of the bipartisan 
Grimm Amendment on Project Labor Agreements, or PLAs.
  In construction, contractors often do not have a permanent workforce.
  This makes it hard to predict the length and cost of a project.
  On large projects with many employers, a labor dispute with just one 
can delay the entire project.
  PLAs are short-term agreements for the length of a project that can 
reduce a project's length and cost.
  PLAs lead to higher-quality work by spelling out the work 
requirements, pay, benefits, and dispute resolution in advance.
  PLAs prevent worker strikes and reduce turnover.
  In 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Order on PLAs.
  The Executive Order encouraged Federal agencies to consider requiring 
PLAs for large Federal construction projects of $25 million or more.
  In Hawaii, last week Governor Neil Abercrombie announced a PLA plan 
for five large state construction projects.
  This can help save taxpayer money and create Hawaii jobs, while 
minimizing project uncertainty.
  While PLAs are regarded as cost efficient, sadly, this Majority in 
Congress has tried again and again to undermine the use of Project 
Labor Agreements.
  Today's FY 2013 MilCon-VA bill forbids military construction 
contracts from requiring PLAs.
  The bipartisan Grimm Amendment would remove this prohibition to allow 
Federal contractors a choice on PLAs.
  Today's amendment vote feels like deja vu.
  Congress has had vote after vote on this issue.
  Last year at this time we debated the FY 2012 MilCon-VA bill.
  I supported at that time a similar bipartisan amendment to preserve 
PLAs.
  That amendment by Mr. LaTourette, Republican of Ohio, passed 204 to 
203, with over two dozen Republican votes.
  This issue shouldn't be about Democrats and Republicans. It's about 
supporting flexibility, common sense, and job creation.
  We need to put our differences aside and do the right thing.
  In Hawaii we call this laulima--cooperation.
  I'm proud to stand with Republican Congressman Michael Grimm and 
Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette on this issue.
  I urge all my colleagues to support the Grimm Amendment today as 
well.
  Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Chair, I rise in support of the Grimm Amendment to 
H.R. 5854, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs 
Appropriations Act. This amendment strikes a provision in the 
underlying bill that would prevent Federal Government agencies, 
including the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, from 
requiring the use of project labor agreements.
  A project labor agreement (PLA) is a pre-hire agreement that 
establishes the terms and conditions of employment during a 
construction project. Any contractor--union or non-union--can work on 
projects under a PLA, as long as they abide by the wages, benefits and 
other terms of employment negotiated in the agreement. They have been 
used in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on both private and 
public projects.
  In February 2009, President Obama signed an Executive Order that 
encourages Federal agencies to consider requiring the use of PLAs on 
large-scale construction projects of $25 million or more. The order 
states that agencies are not required to use PLAs.
  In its current form, H.R. 5854 would strike these regulations, and 
instead discourage commonsense labor agreements on large-scale 
construction projects. The Grimm Amendment would allow agencies to 
require project labor agreements when they determine that it is in 
their interest to do so, which would follow the path of private 
businesses.
  Successful corporations use PLAs to ensure high-quality, on-time work 
through good jobs with meaningful training programs for local workers. 
Boeing, Disney, Harvard University, and Toyota are among the large 
number of private entities that use PLAs. If the agreements make sense 
for these successful organizations, why would we compromise Federal 
agencies' ability to use them, especially when we are looking to reduce 
government spending?
  Mr. Chair, the priority of Congress should not only be to create 
jobs, but to raise the living standards of the middle class and working 
families across America. I urge my colleagues to vote for the Grimm 
Amendment.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chair, the amendment before us would correct a 
fundamental misunderstanding that has been allowed to slip into H.R. 
5854, the FY 2013 Military Construction/VA Appropriations bill.
  The Grimm Amendment would not have the effect of mandating that 
public contracting entities adopt Project Labor Agreements, as its 
opponents claim. In fact, as has been amply pointed out by my 
colleagues, Section 517 of the bill would prevent the Department of 
Defense, Veterans Affairs, and related agencies from requiring the use 
of project labor agreements (PLA).
  Similar efforts to bar PLAs have been tried in other venues, 
including a recent attempt in Michigan which was declared 
unconstitutional by a U.S. District Judge. The court correctly ruled 
that federal law explicitly allows for PLAs in the construction 
industry, when the government entity determines that it is in the best 
interest--in terms of efficiency, quality, safety or any number of 
other factors--of the local community.
  But it isn't only constitutional; it is also smart. There is ample 
evidence demonstrating that PLAs can serve as an important tool to 
manage large construction projects and maximize efficiency by creating 
collective bargaining benefitting both contractors and workers. 
Washington Nationals Park, Disney World, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline 
all benefited from the use of PLAs.
  In Northern Virginia, taxpayer interests were best served by 
employing a PLA in the first phase of the massive construction project 
on the rail extension to Dulles Airport. Facilitating better access to 
Dulles Airport is important to

[[Page H3339]]

my constituents in Northern Virginia, and it is important to me that 
the project makes the most of public money it receives. The PLA 
utilized has helped to accomplish this goal.
  Academic research confirms that PLAs can contribute to the quality of 
large, complex infrastructure projects. The Cornell School of 
Industrial Labor Relations released a study stating that PLAs ``make 
sense for public works projects'' and their use increases the 
efficiency of planning while reducing labor costs. The Federal 
Government does not mandate PLAs. Executive Order 13502 specifies that 
federal agencies may require them to be used on construction projects 
that are valued at more than $25 million. This is smart policy. It 
provides flexibility for local norms. At this time of concern over 
budgets as well as employment, we should retain that flexibility to 
make use of PLAs.
  PLAs can contribute to efficiencies, quality and cost savings. We 
should not be forcing Federal, State or local governments to rule them 
out for large construction projects, based on misguided, ideological 
grounds, which assume that everything that benefits workers must be bad 
for everyone else.
  I support the Grimm Amendment because it will ensure that government 
contracting authorities are not barred in a disingenuous effort to tie 
their hands with regard to the use of PLAs where they might be 
appropriate.
  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Chair, I rise in strong support for Project Labor 
Agreements (PLAs).
  Today the Republican majority is again playing politics. They have 
brought to the House floor a bill to support our Nation's veterans and 
provide them with the care they earned. This bill should be approved by 
a unanimous vote; we all support our veterans and want to fully fund 
the various programs that care for them after they cared for us.
  But in a cynical and politically motivated attack on working women 
and men across the country the Majority has tucked into this bill a ban 
on the use of PLAs. They are attempting to ban PLAs based on their 
ideology not based on any evidence. This is one more part of their 
anti-worker agenda.
  I have always supported PLAs. PLAs are important, they have been used 
for many years and they work. PLAs ensure high skilled workers complete 
high quality work and provides fair local wages and benefits for all 
workers. I will be voting to support working women and men by repealing 
this anti-PLA provision.
  On February 6, 2009 President Obama signed Executive Order 13502 
encouraging federal agencies to consider requiring the use of PLAs for 
large-scale construction projects. In the Executive Order, President 
Obama noted correctly that by setting the terms and conditions of 
employment and coordinating the various employers, PLAs provide 
stability and help contribute to the efficient completion of Federal 
construction projects.
  Last year, I joined a majority of my colleagues in the House to beat 
back this same anti-worker attack on PLAs and I am hopeful that we will 
be successful again today. President Obama has already indicated that 
he will veto this bill if the attack on PLAs reaches his desk.
  While Republicans play politics today, I will be standing up for and 
voting for working women and men across the country and opposing this 
continued attack on them.
  Ms. RICHARDSON. Thank you, Mr. Chair, for allowing me to speak on the 
Grimm Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 Military Construction/Veteran 
Affairs Appropriations bill.
  I also want to thank Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Bishop for 
their efforts in bringing this bill forward.
  Last year, I worked with Congressman LaTourette on defeating anti-
Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) language in the MilCon/VA 
Appropriations bill.
  This year, I rise in support of the Grimm Amendment. This amendment 
simply saves taxpayers money!
  The Grimm Amendment ensures that funds for large-scale construction 
projects utilize the most cost-effective and efficient process for the 
awarding of Federal contracts.
  Section 517 of H.R. 5854 prohibits agencies from being able to use 
all available methods to ensure that federal contracts are cost-
efficient.
  Section 517 raises the risk of project cost overruns and delays. 
Section 517 of this legislation fails to protect our workers.
  Mr. Chair, however one feels about Project Labor Agreements, the 
MilCon/VA bill is not the appropriate vehicle to have this debate.
  The MilCon/VA bill is intended to reflect our commitment to our 
veterans and our service members in uniform and should be limited to 
that purpose.
  I would like to inform my colleagues about the benefits of Project 
Labor Agreements.
  There is no credible evidence that Project Labor Agreements decrease 
the number of bidders on a project, or increase the costs of 
construction projects.
  In fact, Project Labor Agreements promote cost-effectiveness and 
efficiency in construction projects.
  Project Labor Agreements prevent labor disputes and project delays by 
having an agreement negotiated prior to starting a construction 
project.
  Project Labor Agreements establish working conditions and safety 
standards for workers.
  Project Labor Agreements are used by both union and non-union 
contractors.
  Project Labor Agreements promote providing employment to workers in 
our local communities and help address the employment situation in many 
of our economically distressed communities.
  Mr. Chair, the Grimm Amendment simply allows Federal agencies to use 
all tools at their disposal in awarding large-scale contracts that 
ensure taxpayer funds are used efficiently and that projects are 
completed on time and on budget.
  All of us in Congress are looking at ways to rein in our deficit. 
This amendment protects workers and taxpayer funds.
  Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues to support the Grimm Amendment.
  Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Mr. Chair, the Military Construction and 
Veterans Affairs Appropriations before us will fund a number of vital 
infrastructure projects, including a facility at Fort Belvoir in my 
district. Unfortunately, the bill also inextricably contains language 
that would actually make it more difficult to deliver this and other 
projects in a safe, cost-efficient manner.
  In today's cost-constrained environment, we ought to be placing a 
premium on completing infrastructure projects on time and on budget. We 
ought to place a premium on creating safe working conditions and good 
relations between management and labor to achieve those results.
  Since they were first employed by the Federal Government to help 
defeat the Germans during World War I, Project Labor Agreements have 
been used by both the public and private sectors to reduce costs on 
major infrastructure projects.
  Iconic American projects like the Hoover Dam, the Trans-Alaska 
Pipeline and Walt Disney World were completed under Project Labor 
Agreements. Wal-Mart and Toyota have touted the benefits of PLAs, and 
findings from the GAO and Cornell University show PLAs maximize 
productivity and minimize risk to yield savings. Right here in the 
National Capital Region, a PLA for the drawbridge on Woodrow Wilson 
Bridge helped complete that portion of the project 6 months ahead of 
schedule. Construction on the Dulles Rail project, which will link our 
Nation's capital with the premier international airport, also is being 
performed under a PLA.
  I urge my colleagues to support the Grimm amendment and strike this 
restrictive language in the bill so we can make use of this valuable 
tool to control project costs, promote worker safety and realize 
savings for taxpayers.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from New York (Mr. Grimm).
  The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the ayes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further 
proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York 
will be postponed.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Massachusetts is recognized for 
5 minutes.
  Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Chairman, while I strongly support some of the 
programs supported by this funding bill, it contains a number proposals 
that I believe are detrimental.
  Firstly, H.R. 5854 includes language that will amount to an 
unwarranted extension of the pay freeze that's currently in effect for 
Federal employees. Specifically, sections 129, 231, and 232 would 
freeze the pay for Federal civilian employees across the Departments of 
Defense and Veterans Affairs through FY 2013 even though these 
employees, like all Federal employees governmentwide, have already 
sacrificed their fair share when it comes to reducing the Federal 
budget deficit. In this Congress alone, Federal employees have given up 
over $75 billion towards deficit reduction efforts and to offset the 
costs of unemployment benefits for millions of other workers.
  Let us remember that our Federal employees are in the second year of 
a 2-year Federal pay freeze that will save the Federal Government $5 
billion by the end of fiscal year 2012 and an estimated $60 billion 
over the next 10 years. For the average middle-income

[[Page H3340]]

Federal employee, this will amount to a loss of approximately $47,000 
in income over a 20-year period that could go toward a child's 
education or a family's retirement security.
  Our Federal employees have already done more than their part to 
achieve government cost savings, and in recognition of their dedication 
President Obama recently proposed a modest pay raise of 0.5 percent--a 
half a percent--in 2013 for Federal workers. This bill, however, 
rejects the President's funding request for 0.5 percent for civilian 
employees at DOD and the VA and freezes their salaries for a third 
consecutive year, even though a 0.5 percent raise will still not 
adequately protect Federal pay from being eroded by an inflation rate 
that is currently over 3 percent. So they're still going to get a pay 
cut, but it would have been a 2\1/2\ percent pay cut instead of 3 
percent. And we can't live with that.
  Mr. Chairman, this is yet another in a series of legislative attacks 
that have targeted middle class workers in this Congress. It will 
further erode employee morale and diminish the Federal Government's 
ability to attract the best and brightest to carry out its work.
  I don't know if you read Politico today. They did a survey of job 
satisfaction among Federal employees in the VA. The docs are doing 
great work. The nurses are doing fantastic work. The therapists over 
there are. We all say we're really protective about our veterans. Well, 
these are the people that take care of our veterans every single day. 
They clean the bedpans. They do their therapy. They do their surgery. 
They watch out for them. And we were going to give them a 0.5 percent 
raise this year. Instead, what this bill does is cuts their pay. It 
cuts out that 0.5 percent that they would have gotten.
  These are the people that are taking care of our veterans. God bless 
them. A lot of them are veterans themselves. And these are DOD 
employees. We all say we're pro-military. These are people that are 
supporting our fighting men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan on a 
daily basis in a direct way. We were going to give them a 0.5 percent 
raise. But no, we're going to cut their pay in order to have them help 
us balance the budget some more. They're already in a 2-year pay 
freeze.
  Our dedicated civil servants play a vital role in many critical 
areas, especially in the work they do every day to support our military 
and our veterans. They should not continue to bear a disproportionate 
burden when it comes to addressing our Nation's budget problems.
  I also want to express my strong opposition to section 517, which, 
again, prohibits the use of project labor agreements, as we said 
before.
  There's a lot of disappointments in this bill. I cannot believe that 
we're going after VA workers in this bill and against Defense 
Department workers in this bill. I think they do a lot for this 
country. They do a lot for the most vulnerable, especially at the VA. 
They do heroic work there. I have three VA hospitals in my district. 
I'm blessed with the Brockton Hospital. They're doing tremendous work 
there with a lot of our World War II veterans, who, for the first time 
in their lives, have to rely on the VA.
  And these are the people that are doing that job, Mr. Chairman. 
They're doing a tremendous job. They're already working at less wages 
than they could get at a private hospital. But because they love our 
veterans and believe in it, they stay there at the VA out of the 
goodness of their heart. And now we've got them in a 2-year pay freeze. 
The President was trying to give them a 0.5 percent increase in cost of 
living, and they're being denied even that.
  I yield back the balance of my time.


                    Amendment Offered by Ms. Speier

  Ms. SPEIER. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 66, after line 4, insert the following:
       Sec. __. (a) Section 107 of title 38, United States Code, 
     is amended--
       (1) in subsection (a)--
       (A) by striking ``not'' after ``Army of the United States, 
     shall''; and
       (B) by striking ``, except benefits under--'' and all that 
     follows in that subsection and inserting a period;
       (2) in subsection (b)--
       (A) by striking ``not'' after ``Armed Forces Voluntary 
     Recruitment Act of 1945 shall''; and
       (B) by striking ``except--'' and all that follows in that 
     subsection and inserting a period;
       (3) by amending subsection (c) to read as follows:
       ``(c) Determination of Eligibility.--
       ``(1) In general.--In determining the eligibility of the 
     service of an individual under this section, the Secretary 
     shall take into account any alternative documentation 
     regarding such service, including documentation other than 
     the Missouri List, that the Secretary determines relevant.
       ``(2) Report.--Not later than March 1 of each year, the 
     Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs 
     of the Senate and House of Representatives a report that 
     includes--
       ``(A) the number of individuals applying for benefits 
     pursuant to this section during the previous year; and
       ``(B) the number of such individuals that the Secretary 
     approved for benefits.''; and
       (4) by amending subsection (d) to read as follows:
       ``(d) Relation to Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation 
     Fund.--Section 1002(h) of the American Recovery and 
     Reinvestment Act of 2009 (title X of division A of Public Law 
     111 5; 123 Stat. 200; 38 U.S.C. 107 note) shall not apply to 
     an individual described in subsection (a) or (b) of this 
     section.''.
       (b)(1) The heading of such section is amended to read as 
     follows:

     ``Sec.  107. Certain service deemed to be active service: 
       service in organized military forces of the Philippines and 
       in the Philippine Scouts''.

       (2) The item relating to such section in the table of 
     sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of such title is 
     amended to read as follows:

``107. Certain service deemed to be active service: service in 
              organized military forces of the Philippines and in the 
              Philippine Scouts.''.
       (c)(1) The amendments made by this section shall take 
     effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the 
     enactment of this Act.
       (2) No benefits shall accrue to any person for any period 
     before the effective date of this section by reason of the 
     amendments made by this section

  Mr. CULBERSON (during the reading). Mr. Chairman, I ask that the 
reading be dispensed with.
  The Acting CHAIR. Without objection, the reading is dispensed with.
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I reserve a point of order on the 
gentlewoman's amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. The point of order is reserved.
  The gentlewoman from California is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Ms. SPEIER. Our Nation is great because in times of trial when we do 
the wrong thing, we will come back and do the right thing.
  What this amendment does is attempt to address a wrong that we did 
many years ago, and right that wrong by restoring a promise that we 
made to Filipinos that fought side-by-side with us in World War II. We 
promised them in no uncertain terms that they would enjoy the same 
veterans benefits that others received for putting their lives at risk.
  More than 200,000 Filipinos fought in defense of the United States in 
the Pacific theater against the Japanese in World War II, and more than 
half of them were killed. As citizens of a commonwealth of the United 
States before and during the war, Filipinos were legally American 
nationals, and they were promised the same benefits afforded to those 
serving in the United States Armed Forces.

                              {time}  1910

  But in 1946, Congress passed the Rescission Act, a law that stripped 
Filipinos of the benefits that had been promised them by Franklin 
Delano Roosevelt. The Rescission Act created a wrong that will not be 
righted unless our Nation restores the veteran status it promised to 
Filipino soldiers more than 65 years ago.
  Now the irony here, Mr. Chairman, is that there were other countries 
that provided us with men and women who served during World War II, and 
they were also promised veterans benefits. In fact, there are 65 
countries that provided servicemembers to fight alongside us. Every one 
of those other soldiers were provided veterans benefits from other 
countries. And yet the Filipinos, who were part of a commonwealth at 
the time, who were nationals of this country, who were promised 
veterans benefits, were denied them by the Rescission Act that was 
passed in 1946.
  What this amendment does is make all Filipino veterans fully eligible 
for

[[Page H3341]]

veterans benefits, similar to those received by U.S. veterans. 
Specifically, the amendment eliminates the distinction between regular 
or old Filipino scouts and the other three groups of veterans--
Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerilla Forces, and 
New Filipino Scouts. Veterans that have received lump sum payments 
would be eligible for these benefits.
  Now, we tried to sort of cover this all up by giving them a $15,000 
stipend. Frankly, that's not good enough. And there are about 15,000 
living Filipino veterans of World War II right now. They're 85 years 
old. They're not going to live much longer, but they certainly deserve 
the benefits that we promised them but we then rescinded with the 
Rescission Act of 1946.
  For these veterans and their families, I believe the time has come to 
right this horrific wrong, and I yield back the balance of my time.


                             Point of Order

  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I insist on my point of order.
  I make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to 
change existing statutory law and constitutes legislation in an 
appropriations bill and therefore violates clause 2 of rule XXI.
  The rule states in pertinent part: ``An amendment to a general 
appropriations bill shall not be in order if changing existing law . . 
. ''
  In this case the amendment directly amends existing law.
  I ask for a ruling from the Chair.
  The Acting CHAIR. Does any Member wish to be heard on the point of 
order? If not, the Chair will rule.
  The Chair finds that the amendment proposes directly to change 
existing law, to wit: section 107 of title 38. As such, it constitutes 
legislation in violation of clause 2(c) of rule XXI.
  The point of order is sustained.
  The Clerk will read.
  The Clerk read as follows:

                       spending reduction account

       Sec. 518. The amount by which the applicable allocation of 
     new budget authority made by the Committee on Appropriations 
     of the House of Representatives under section 302(b) of the 
     Congressional Budget Act of 1974 exceeds the amount of 
     proposed new budget authority is $0.


                  Amendment Offered by Mr. Fitzpatrick

  Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title) insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available in this Act may 
     be used to enter into a contract using procedures that do not 
     give to small business concerns owned and controlled by 
     veterans (as that term is defined in section 3(q)(3) of the 
     Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 632(q)(3)) that are included in 
     the database under section 8127(f) of title 38, United States 
     Code, any preference available with respect to such contract, 
     except for a preference given to small business concerns 
     owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans (as that 
     term is defined in section 3(q)(2) of the Small Business Act 
     (15 U.S.C. 632(q)(2)).

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. FITZPATRICK. Mr. Chairman, I rise this evening to offer an 
amendment that levels the playing field and promotes fairness for 
veterans when it comes to contracting with the Federal Government. 
According to the most recent census, there are almost 22 million 
veterans living in the United States and over 2.4 million of them now 
manage their own company. Providing opportunities for veteran-owned 
small businesses I believe utilizes the talents and training of our 
Nation's heroes and can help end epidemic levels of veteran 
unemployment.
  Unfortunately, not all of our servicemen and -women have found 
opportunities upon their return home. The Bureau of Labor Statistics 
has reported that the unemployment rate among veterans, including those 
returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, was at a staggering 21.9 percent. 
These numbers are unacceptable. These brave men and women who have 
served our country deserve every effort from this body to give them the 
tools they need to provide for themselves and their families. It should 
be the explicit policy of this Congress and all government agencies to 
support our veterans and our veteran entrepreneurs.
  Therefore, Mr. Chairman, the amendment I am again offering to the 
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act would 
give veteran-owned small businesses the preference for contracts equal 
to that of any group eligible for a preferred consideration except for 
service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
  The practice of the Federal Government providing preferences to 
encourage government to do business with certain groups is very well 
established. This amendment does not look to restrict or change the 
current preference process. It merely serves to level the playing field 
for our veterans. This amendment would also preserve the current policy 
of giving greater preference to service-disabled veteran-owned small 
businesses.
  This exact same amendment was unanimously passed in last year's 
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs act. It was signed into law 
as part of last year's budget process.
  As our Nation continues to emerge from this Great Recession, we need 
to create an economic climate that encourages innovation and also 
rewards hard work. By serving this great Nation nobly, often in far-off 
and dangerous locations, our Nation's veterans have displayed 
exceptional determination and leadership skills. Character traits like 
these are paramount for long-term economic prosperity and for private 
sector success. I and many of my colleagues have made a commitment to 
our constituents, and to the American people, to do everything possible 
to create jobs and to do everything possible to help returning 
veterans. The self-discipline and innovation of our veterans could lead 
our economic recovery.
  Ultimately, this amendment would give our veterans a level playing 
field to help spur economic growth and help spur job creation. With 
many servicemen and -women returning home from their combat missions in 
Iraq and Afghanistan, and nearly a quarter of veterans saying they are 
interested in starting or buying their own small businesses, we need to 
preserve accountability of these contract programs. In order to do so, 
we define small businesses by using the current definition outlined by 
the Small Business Administration, and eligible businesses must be 
registered with the Department of Veteran Affairs where the VA Center 
for Veteran Enterprises maintains a database of certified and 
registered veteran-owned businesses.
  In addition, this amendment would apply to all Federal contracts 
authorized by this act and would be applied to any portion of State or 
local projects receiving Federal funds. In many cases, this law will 
simply be reinforcing existing practices and ensuring that this will 
continue to be the policy.
  Let this Congress once again bring fairness to the government 
contracting system and ensure that our veterans, who put their lives on 
the line and their lives on hold to defend our freedoms, make sure that 
they are receiving the same preferential contracting status that this 
Congress has given to others.
  I urge my colleagues to support this important amendment, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, veteran-owned companies do two 
really important things: First, they create jobs and provide positive 
impact on our economy. And most importantly, veteran-owned small 
businesses provide a great venue for unemployed veterans to find work.
  Mr. Chairman, I believe that the government has done poorly in 
reaching the 3 percent contracting goal for veterans. For example, 
agency contractor awards are below 1 percent from 2003 to 2006. The 
most recent figures for 2009 show agencies awarded only 1.98 percent to 
service-disabled veterans. Agencies need to do better, and I believe 
this amendment will help the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs 
do a better job.

                              {time}  1920

  I support this amendment, and I urge its adoption.
  Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

[[Page H3342]]

  Mr. DICKS. I want to join in supporting this amendment and commend 
the gentleman from Pennsylvania for his hard work on this effort. I 
hope we can adopt this amendment unanimously. I appreciate the 
gentleman yielding.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. We're pleased to accept the gentleman's amendment. We 
accepted it last year, and we're proud to accept it this year to help 
encourage the VA to look to better-known businesses.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my 
time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Fitzpatrick).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                 Amendment Offered by Mr. Poe of Texas

  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to hire a director of a national cemetery who is not 
     a veteran.

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, during the hot days of last summer, 
the Veterans of Foreign Wars went to battle with the Veterans 
Administration in Houston, Texas. The VFW claimed the Veterans 
Administration was censoring free speech and preventing the free 
exercise of religion at the National Cemetery in Houston.
  I appreciate the chairman, Mr. Culberson's, work on this project 
after the Veterans of Foreign Wars notified not only me, but notified 
him as well. The result is this:
  This cemetery, Mr. Chairman, is the second largest in the Nation; 
it's a place where four Medal of Honor recipients are buried. The VA 
said that the chapel at the cemetery would be closed, and it was 
closed. The Bible, the cross, and the Star of David were removed by the 
Veterans Administration and the chapel became a storage shed. The VFW 
members also said that the director of the cemetery censored the 
prayers and prohibited the religious ceremony during the burial of 
America's veterans.
  The VFW had to sue the Veterans Administration, and the Veterans 
Administration naturally denied the whole thing. But, recently, a 
Federal judge in Texas approved and agreed to an order requiring the 
chapel to be reopened, the Bible, the cross and the Star of David to be 
returned to their proper places, and said that the Veterans 
Administration must not interfere with free speech or the free exercise 
of religion at burials of America's war veterans.
  Mr. Chairman, it's ironic that Americans have gone to war all over 
the world, fought for the principles of the U.S. Constitution, then 
when they come home, they face government hostility and the denial of 
First Amendment rights to the citizens when these veterans are buried 
in VA cemeteries.
  Now the veterans have won a battle against a government that wanted 
to deny them the American freedoms they fought for in lands far, far 
away.
  Mr. Chairman, a fundamental problem in the Houston case was the 
director of the cemetery was not a veteran. She did not understand the 
needs of veterans because she was not a veteran herself. And according 
to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, she disrespected the veterans and 
their most fundamental rights. She censored prayers and speeches.
  The amendment is simple. It says that any new hires of cemetery 
directors must be veterans. Eighty percent of current cemetery 
directors are veterans--on the application, when they apply to be a 
director, they must state whether they're a veteran or not--so clearly 
the Veterans Administration agrees that cemetery directors should be 
veterans themselves. This amendment would not force the remaining 20 
percent that are not veterans to be fired. It would say that if the 
Veterans Administration is going to hire new directors, they will be 
veterans.
  Our veterans need to know the directors of cemeteries understand what 
veterans and their families go through. They are the ones who best 
understand the needs of veterans in their time of grief, so they need 
to be veterans.
  And that's just the way it is.
  I yield back the balance of my time.


                             Point of Order

  Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I raise a point of order.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman will state his point of order.
  Mr. DICKS. Which amendment is before the House?
  The Acting CHAIR. Without objection, the Clerk will reread the 
amendment.
  The Clerk reread the amendment.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I agree to the amendment and accept it. I think it's 
important. Had the cemetery director in Houston been a veteran, this 
problem never would have arisen.
  I also thank the gentleman for bringing both of these amendments to 
the floor tonight. I have personally witnessed the cemetery director 
interfering with the funeral services of veterans. It is outrageous, 
just absolutely unacceptable. I thank the gentleman for his amendments 
and speaking on this amendment first. I have no objection and will 
accept this amendment.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word 
and to speak in opposition to the amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I have great empathy for the 
concerns that the gentleman from Texas has raised in his discussions 
about the amendment on hiring a national cemetery administration 
director, but I just want to address some of them because I don't think 
it's good policy, and I don't think it will make for the best 
management and operation of our national cemeteries.
  Employees of the National Cemetery Administration are proud to serve 
veterans and to serve veterans' families in their time of need, and 
they do it with dignity and compassion. While the National Cemetery 
Administration has one of the highest percentages of veteran employees 
of any Federal agency--79 percent of the employees and 80 percent of 
its cemetery directors are veterans--the desire and the passion to 
serve our Nation's veterans is not limited to just veterans.
  VA national cemeteries are nationally recognized for their commitment 
to excellence and top-rated customer satisfaction. Since 2001, the 
National Cemetery Administration has earned the American Customer 
Satisfaction Index's rating as a top-performing public or private 
organization in the country. This continues to be achieved by dedicated 
National Cemetery Administration employees, both veterans and 
nonveterans.
  Who says a nonveteran cannot be patriotic and support the United 
States of America? If such an amendment passes, who would it impact? 
Most of our nonveteran cemetery directors have family ties with 
veterans. For example, one of our long-serving national cemetery 
directors had a father who served in the U.S. Army during World War II 
and saw combat in the Philippines, a brother who served as an Army 
infantryman in Vietnam, a husband who served in the Marine Corps during 
the Vietnam War, and most recently a son-in-law in the Marines who 
served two tours overseas during Operation Desert Storm.
  This bill will result in a child, a sibling, or a spouse of a veteran 
losing his or her job or being denied the opportunity for a promotion. 
These individuals supported their family members as they put their 
lives on the line for our Nation, and now they wish to continue to 
honor and care for the graves of veterans in their final resting place.
  VA follows all Federal laws and OPM regulations requiring hiring 
preference for eligible veterans. This legislation would make VA 
vulnerable to litigation by the displaced cemetery directors through 
the Merit Systems Protection Board.
  The NCA requires all new national cemetery directors to have 
completed a 1-year intensive internship program that provides 
comprehensive training in all aspects of cemetery operations and 
management. Even if qualified veterans could be hired within 180 days 
to

[[Page H3343]]

fill these critical positions, they would be coming in without the 
specific knowledge and skills to effectively run a cemetery to meet the 
needs of our veterans and their grieving families.
  I think this amendment is well-intentioned, but I don't think that it 
would accomplish what is desired, and I think ultimately it will end up 
with chaos in our personnel system regarding our national cemeteries. I 
urge that this amendment be defeated.
  Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1930

  Mr. RUNYAN. I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. RUNYAN. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. POE of Texas. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  I just want to clarify one comment the ranking member made. This 
amendment would not require the firing of anybody. It's future hires of 
the veterans cemetery directors. So I just wanted to make that clear. 
That wouldn't put anybody out of work.
  This specific problem at the Houston cemetery was all centered around 
the director's insensitivity to veterans. And one of the problems that 
came out during all of the litigation was she had no relationship to 
veterans, didn't understand veterans, she wasn't a veteran, and 
therefore, that's why this legislation is important. But it would not 
require the firing of anybody. It's about future directors.
  Mr. RUNYAN. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DICKS. I move to strike the requisite number of words.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Washington is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DICKS. The Poe amendment states none of the funds made available 
by this act may be used for a director of a national cemetery who, 
after the date that is 180 days, whatever date, however he rephrased 
it.
  According to the VA, compliance with this provision would be 
extremely disruptive to the NCA operations by requiring 20 percent of 
VA national cemetery directors to lose their current jobs for no other 
reason than that they are not a veteran. That is unfair.
  The gentleman may have a grievance about one funeral director, but 
you can't take this out on the rest of these people who are doing a 
good job. So I would hope that we would defeat this ill-considered 
amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to amend the 
amendment to insert the word ``new'' before the word ``director.''
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman will need to submit the modification 
to the desk.
  Mr. DICKS. As I understand it--will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. POE of Texas. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.
  Mr. DICKS. Is it none of the funds made available by this act may be 
used to hire a new director of a national cemetery who is not a 
veteran?
  Mr. POE of Texas. The gentleman is correct.
  Mr. DICKS. Thank you for clarifying that.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the modification.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Modification offered by Mr. Poe of Texas:
  Insert ``new'' between ``a'' and ``director.''

  The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the modification?
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, reserving the right to object, 
is it not true that if we adopt this amendment for new hires, that it 
still restricts the option of getting the best possible manager for the 
cemetery?
  Mr. POE of Texas. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I yield to the gentleman.
  Mr. POE of Texas. It would require that the person be a veteran for 
all new hires of the director of a cemetery. You are correct.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. That's what I thought. Thank you.
  I withdraw my reservation.
  The Acting CHAIR. Is there objection to the modification?
  Without objection, the amendment is modified.
  There was no objection.
  The text of the amendment, as modified, is as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to hire a new director of a national cemetery who is 
     not a veteran.

  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment, as modified, 
offered by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe).
  The amendment, as modified, was agreed to.


                 Amendment Offered by Mr. Poe of Texas

  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:

       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to prohibit a veterans service organization that is 
     participating in the funeral or memorial service of a veteran 
     from reciting any words as part of such service or memorial.

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Once again I thank Chairman Culberson for his work 
on this situation that occurred at the veterans cemetery in Houston 
last year. That has been resolved in one specific case.
  This amendment does something very simple. It ensures that the First 
Amendment rights of veterans and their families will not be violated by 
anyone at burial services at our national cemeteries. It's a free 
speech issue, and it would not allow what has occurred in the past, the 
speech police of the Veterans Administration to control the words of 
those that attend burials of our veterans. It would not allow 
censorship of religion.
  So I urge support of this amendment, which will ensure the 
constitutional rights that are in the First Amendment to those that 
will be buried in the future at all of our national cemeteries.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. POE of Texas. I yield to the gentleman from Georgia.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. We have no objection.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. POE of Texas. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I strongly support the gentleman's amendment and thank 
him for bringing it to the floor tonight, and urge its adoption.
  Mr. POE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Runyan

  Mr. RUNYAN. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       Page 66, after line 10, insert the following new section:
       Sec. 519.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to modify, maintain, or manage a structure, building, 
     or barracks for a person, unit, or mission of the Armed 
     Forces or Department of Defense outside of the normal tour or 
     duty restationing or authorized base closure and realignment 
     process.

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from New Jersey is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. RUNYAN. Mr. Chairman, I will be really brief.
  My amendment states that none of the funds made available by this Act 
could be used to do an informal base realignment and closure.
  As you may be aware, the Senate version of the National Defense 
Authorization Act calls for an independent commission that would help 
determine the Air Force's force structure. I know that many Members of 
this Chamber also want Congress to have our say on this issue. And my 
amendment will help ensure that we do.
  I thank the chairman and the members of the subcommittee for working 
with me on this important amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Runyan).

[[Page H3344]]

  The amendment was agreed to.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Flores

  Mr. FLORES. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), add the 
     following new section:
       Sec. 519.  None of the funds made available by this Act 
     shall be available to enforce section 526 of the Energy 
     Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110 140; 42 
     U.S.C. 17142).

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Florida is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. FLORES. Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment which 
addresses another misguided and restrictive Federal regulation.
  Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act prevents 
Federal agencies from entering into contracts for the procurement of a 
fuel unless its lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are less than or 
equal to emissions from an equivalent conventional fuel produced from 
conventional petroleum sources. In summary, my amendment would stop the 
government from enforcing this ban on all Federal agencies funded by 
the Milcon-VA bill.
  The initial purpose of section 526 was to stifle the Defense 
Department's plans to buy and develop coal-based or coal-to-liquids jet 
fuel. This restriction was based on the opinion of some 
environmentalists that coal-based jet fuel might produce more 
greenhouse gas emissions than traditional petroleum.

                              {time}  1940

  We must ensure that our military has adequate fuel resources and that 
it can rely on domestic and more stable sources of fuel. Unfortunately, 
section 526's ban on fuel choice now affects all Federal agencies, not 
just the Defense Department. This is why I am offering this amendment 
again today to the MilCon-VA appropriations bill. Federal agencies 
should not be burdened with wasting their time studying fuel 
restrictions when there is a simple fix, and that is to not restrict 
our fuel choices based on extreme environmental views, policies, and 
misguided regulations like those in section 526.
  With increasing competition for energy and fuel resources and with 
the continued volatility and instability in the Middle East, it is now 
more important than ever for our country to become more energy 
independent and to further develop and produce our domestic energy 
resources. Placing limits on Federal agencies' fuel choices is an 
unacceptable precedent to set in regard to America's energy policy, 
independence, and our national security. Mr. Chair, section 526 makes 
our Nation more dependent on Middle East oil. Stopping the impact of 
section 526 will help us to promote American energy, improve the 
American economy and create American jobs.
  Let's remember the following facts about section 526: It increases 
our reliance on Middle Eastern oil. It hurts our military readiness, 
our national security, and our energy security. It also prevents the 
potential increased use of some sources of safe, clean, and efficient 
American oil and gas. It increases the cost of American food and 
energy. It hurts American jobs and the American economy. Last but 
certainly not least, it costs our taxpayers more of their hard-earned 
dollars.
  In some circles, there is a misconception that my amendment somehow 
prevents the Federal Government and the military from being able to 
produce and use alternative fuels. Mr. Chairman, this viewpoint is 
categorically false. All my amendment does is to allow the purchasers 
of these fuels to acquire the fuels that best and most efficiently meet 
their needs. I offered a similar amendment to the CJS appropriations 
bill, and it passed with strong bipartisan support. My friend Mr. 
Conaway also had language added to the Defense authorization bill to 
exempt the Defense Department from this burdensome regulation.
  I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this commonsense 
amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. I rise in opposition to the gentleman's 
amendment.
  Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 is 
intended to ensure that the environmental costs from the use of 
alternative fuels are at least no worse than the fuels in use today. It 
requires that the Federal Government do no more harm when it comes to 
global climate change than it does today through the use of 
unconventional fuels.
  Section 526 precludes the use of fuels, such as coal-to-liquids, as 
well as unconventional petroleum fuels, such as tar sands and oil 
shale, unless advanced technologies, such as carbon sequestration, are 
used to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions. The corollary is that 
domestic production could be achieved with carbon sequestration. 
Further, the EIA predicts that these alternative fuels may well take 
decades to develop and that the additional fuel production capacity of 
these alternatives is unlikely to exceed 10 percent of the fuel supply 
by 2030.
  A number of the reports have concluded that the potential adverse 
national security impacts of climate change, such as political unrest 
due to famines and droughts, may very well be severe. These 
consequences can outweigh the security benefits of the domestic 
production of these fuels.
  The Department of Defense alone is the largest single energy consumer 
in the world. It consumes approximately as much energy as the nation of 
Nigeria. Its leadership in this area is critical to any credible 
approach to dealing with energy security issues in a way that will not 
result in dangerous global climate change. This prohibition provides an 
opportunity for the DOD to play a substantial role in spurring 
innovation to produce alternative fuels which will not worsen global 
climate change.
  I urge Members to vote ``no'' on this amendment, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the gentleman's 
amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. CULBERSON. We accepted this amendment, and it passed the House 
last year.
  I am happy to yield to my friend from Texas for any further comments 
he would like to make.
  Mr. FLORES. I thank the gentleman from Texas.
  Let's restate what this amendment does.
  It prevents section 526 from restricting the fuel choices available 
to our military and to our Federal agencies. It doesn't say that they 
cannot go ahead and develop alternative fuel sources. We can debate 
whether or not that's appropriate. The Navy recently made a purchase of 
biofuel for $27 a gallon, which was five to six times more expensive 
than traditional fuels. Now, we can debate if that's the appropriate 
use of taxpayer money. I think it's wrong. This amendment would not 
affect that whatsoever. All it says is that the Navy or the other 
branches of the military or any Federal agency affected by MilCon-VA 
can buy whatever fuel it deems most appropriate for its needs.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I urge the adoption of the amendment.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Flores).
  The amendment was agreed to.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Webster

  Mr. WEBSTER. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used for the salary or compensation of a Director of 
     Construction and Facilities Management of the Department of 
     Veterans Affairs (or an individual acting as such Director) 
     who does not meet the qualifications for such position 
     required under section 312A(b) of title 38, United States 
     Code.

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Florida is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. WEBSTER. My amendment is simple. It requires the Department of 
Veterans Affairs to follow existing law and to insist on having an 
experienced Director of Construction and Facilities Management. All it 
requires is that the holder of this position have a degree in

[[Page H3345]]

architecture or engineering and have professional experience in 
construction project management.
  Not many people have heard of this position, but it carries enormous 
responsibility, not only for the stewardship of our tax dollars, but 
also for ensuring that our veterans have the facilities necessary for 
the health care and medical treatment we promised them and they earned. 
The VA manages over 5,000 buildings nationwide. According to the GAO, 
it has nearly 70 ongoing major construction projects around the 
country, 33 of which are major medical facilities. Of these 33, many 
have experienced considerable cost overruns and schedule delays.
  Four of the largest projects under construction are full service 
hospitals designed to provide health care to the hundreds of thousands 
of American veterans. The VA will spend an estimated $3 billion on 
these four facilities. One of these sites is in Orlando. The 
construction of the Orlando VAMC has been a classic example of 
government waste and inefficiency. The VA broke ground on the site in 
2008 with a scheduled completion date of 2010. The estimated completion 
date now has been pushed back well into 2013.
  Several GAO reports and House Veterans Affairs' Committee hearings 
have sought to determine the root cause of these problems. However, it 
is increasingly clear that the lack of expertise on the part of the 
Department of Construction and Facilities Management within the VA 
bears responsibility. The VA has violated public law by ignoring the 
required qualifications to occupy a position that oversees these 
projects. The result is a cost to the taxpayers of an additional $1.1 
billion on the four largest projects alone and multiple-year delays in 
health care services to our veterans.
  The qualifications are shockingly simple for a position that oversees 
the construction of veterans' health care facilities that cost billions 
of dollars. An individual who holds the position of Director of 
Construction and Facilities Management, under current law, must meet 
two qualifications: (1) hold an undergraduate or a master's degree in 
architectural design or engineering; (2) have professional experience 
in the area of construction and project management.
  My amendment simply requires that the funds used to hire this person 
meet that criteria. The Director of Construction and Facilities 
Management will potentially oversee as much as $15 billion in 
construction and repairs over the next 5 years. We owe it to our 
Nation's heroes to have qualified, experienced people behind these 
critical projects.
  I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on this Webster amendment to 
ensure that not only valuable taxpayer dollars are appropriately 
managed but that our veterans have access to the high-quality health 
care facilities that they deserve.
  I yield back the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1950

  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Florida (Mr. Webster).
  The amendment was agreed to.


            Amendment No. 8 Offered by Mr. Franks of Arizona

  Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
  The text of the amendment is as follows:

       Page 66, after line 10, add the following new section:
       Sec. 519.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used to implement, administer, or enforce the prevailing 
     wage requirements in subchapter IV of chapter 31 of title 40, 
     United States Code (commonly referred to as the Davis-Bacon 
     Act).

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of this 
amendment to H.R. 5854, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs 
and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013. I also want to thank 
my colleagues--Mr. Gosar, Mr. Steve King, and Mr. Amash--for joining me 
in cosponsoring this amendment.
  Mr. Chairman, my amendment would ensure that no funds made available 
by H.R. 5854 could be used to implement, administer, or enforce the 
Davis-Bacon Act requirements for government contracts.
  Mr. Chairman, the Davis-Bacon Act is an anachronistic law that was 
enacted during the Great Depression to prevent wayfaring contractors 
from lowballing local construction bids. The sponsors of this act 
originally intended for it to discriminate against nonunionized black 
workers in favor of white workers belonging to white-only unions. This 
vestigial remnant of the Jim Crow era has no place in our military 
construction contracts and should be abandoned.
  Furthermore, the Davis-Bacon Act results in billions of wasted 
taxpayer dollars every year. The act requires Federal construction 
contractors to pay their workers higher government-mandated wages, 
which would be as much as 1\1/2\ times greater than their basic pay 
rate. This results in artificially high costs of construction, Mr. 
Chairman, which are ultimately shouldered by American taxpayers. 
Contractors wishing to offer a lower bid would still be required by law 
to pay their employees the higher government-mandated wage and file a 
weekly report of the wages paid to each worker. This has a particularly 
negative effect on small businesses as they are often unable to compete 
due to the Davis-Bacon wage and benefits requirements, which reduces 
competition and further inflates contract rates.
  Moreover, Mr. Chairman, Davis-Bacon was enacted before the Fair Labor 
Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act; and, according to 
GAO, these acts have rendered Davis-Bacon obsolete and unnecessary. 
There are a number of laws passed by this body that protect 
construction workers without the discriminatory intent and effect of 
Davis-Bacon.
  During this time of fiscal austerity and responsibility, Congress 
must do all it can to lower Federal contract costs and decrease the 
burden on American taxpayers. This amendment is an attempt to stop the 
hemorrhage of wasteful spending and rein in our debt.
  I urge my colleagues to support this amendment that would ensure no 
funds are made available by H.R. 5854 that could be used to implement, 
administer, or enforce the wasteful Davis-Bacon Act, and I yield back 
the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BISHOP of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, this is a very ill-conceived 
amendment, and I must stand in opposition to it.
  The Davis-Bacon Act requires that workers on federally funded 
construction projects be paid no less than the wages paid in the 
community for similar work. It requires that every contract for 
construction of which the Federal Government is a party in excess of 
$2,000 contain a provision defining the minimum wages paid to various 
classes of laborers and mechanics. This is a pretty simple concept, and 
it is a fair one. What the Davis-Bacon Act does is protect the 
government, as well as the workers, in carrying out the policy of 
paying decent wages on government contracts.
  I would like to just mention quickly that Davis-Bacon has no effect 
on the total cost of construction. Study after study reveals 
productivity makes up for any additional labor costs, essentially 
eliminating any cost savings if the law were repealed. But this 
amendment seeks to prevent Federal agencies from administering these 
requirements in statute. Let me give you a few examples of how this 
poorly thought-out proposal could actually play out in the real world 
if it's enacted into law.
  The amendment, as is written, could prevent Federal agencies that use 
funds through this legislation from monitoring, investigating, 
transmitting conformances, and providing compliance assistance to 
existing Davis-Bacon covered contracts that were awarded prior to this 
funding legislation. Contractors requesting H2B visas could conceivably 
request non-U.S. workers receive permits for employment at wage rates 
not in concert with the Davis-Bacon wage rates of that locality. 
Procurement agencies may not be able to proceed with the award of 
contracts that were solicited in the prior fiscal period but awarded 
under this funding legislation. During the period covered by this 
funding, bidders could use wages as a method of undercutting the 
locally established wage

[[Page H3346]]

rates of that community that might promote the use of workers from 
different geographic areas. The amendment could prevent Federal 
agencies that use money from this appropriation from advising State, 
local, and other grant recipients of DBA application to federally 
assisted programs that would otherwise be subject to the DBA 
provisions.
  This is not responsible legislation, and it's not responsible 
governing. I urge the defeat of this amendment, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the gentleman's 
amendment.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. CULBERSON. I want to say again, as I mentioned earlier--and I 
think much of this has been said, so I won't belabor it--the State of 
Texas is a right-to-work State. There are very few, if any, labor 
unions in the State of Texas. We have them in a few industries, but not 
many.
  We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers' precious dollars, and 
the gentleman from Arizona's amendment makes good sense. We should pay 
the free-market wage. We should not force taxpayers to pay an 
artificially high union wage when a free-market wage is available and 
you can get a job done well at a far better price. That just makes 
common sense.
  Mr. Chairman, I urge adoption of the gentleman's amendment, and I 
yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of 
words.
  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Washington is recognized for 5 
minutes.
  Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, let me just clear up a couple of things, 
especially what the gentleman from Texas just had to say.
  This may be something that will be hard for him to believe, but this 
is, as I understand it, from the Labor Department. A Davis-Bacon wage 
usually is not a union wage. The Davis-Bacon prevailing wage is based 
upon surveys of wages and benefits actually paid to various job 
classifications of construction workers--an example is iron workers--in 
the community without regard to union membership.
  According to the Department of Labor, a whopping 72 percent of the 
prevailing wage rates issued in 2000 were based upon nonunion wage 
rates. A union wage prevails only if the DOL survey determines that the 
local wages are paid to more than 50 percent of the workers in the job 
classification. So 72 percent of these prevailing wages are nonunion. 
I'm sure the gentleman from Texas and the gentleman from Arizona are 
thrilled to hear that. Sometimes the facts are revealing.
  Again, we've defeated this amendment over and over and over again. 
Mr. Chairman, I urge the House to defeat the Franks amendment this 
evening, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Arizona (Mr. Franks).
  The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes 
appeared to have it.
  Mr. FRANKS of Arizona. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.
  The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further 
proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Arizona will 
be postponed.


                    Amendment Offered by Mr. Stearns

  Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
  The Acting CHAIR. The Clerk will report the amendment.
  The Clerk read as follows:

       At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the 
     following:
       Sec. __.  None of the funds made available by this Act may 
     be used by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to pay a 
     performance award under section 5384 of title 5, United 
     States Code.

  The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Florida is recognized for 5 
minutes.

                              {time}  2000

  Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Chairman, I am not going to take the full 5 minutes. 
My amendment is pretty simple. It will prohibit funds from being paid 
as bonuses to employees that are classified in the Senior Executive 
Service.
  What we found when we looked at this, the Veterans' Affairs Committee 
held a hearing on this, on the budget, in February of this year. The 
Secretary of the VA testified that their budget request was held 
accountable for the program results. Of course, one of the issues that 
came up, Mr. Chairman, was the enormous bonuses and awards that were 
given out to VA employees.
  I think, like many of us here in the House, we are concerned about 
bonuses when we have so many problems in this economy, high employment, 
and also we have an unmanageable backlog of cases, an extremely long 
wait for our veterans to see mental health professionals.
  Of course, the VA has a history of poor contracting process and 
oversight. For example, at the Miami VA Health Center, veterans may 
have been exposed to HIV/AIDS due to poor sterilization procedures down 
there. Despite these poor records, they are giving out huge bonuses for 
simple things like suggestions, foreign language award, travel, savings 
incentives, referral bonuses.
  In fact, on recruitment and relocation retention alone, almost 60,000 
recipients received over 450,000 in cash bonuses. My simple amendment 
is saying enough is enough. What we want to do is say all of government 
should make a sacrifice, particularly the VA. If they're giving out 
these huge bonuses, why don't they cut back on their senior, senior 
employees.
  Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. STEARNS. I yield to the gentleman.
  Mr. DICKS. Could we work out an agreement here that we could take the 
savings from the gentleman's amendment and use that to pay the workers, 
the half of 1 percent raise that is denied in this? Is there a way we 
could work this out?
  Mr. STEARNS. I thank the gentleman for his suggestions. I am just 
going to go with my amendment at this point. Having an opportunity to 
look this over, I think we have talked to the veterans committee, and 
we think it is a viable amendment. I think certainly as we move into 
conference, we can look at what you're suggesting, but right now I 
would just like to press this.
  Mr. DICKS. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.
  Mr. STEARNS. With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my 
time.
  The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the 
gentleman from Florida (Mr. Stearns).
  The amendment was agreed to.
  Mr. CULBERSON. Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee do now rise.
  The motion was agreed to.
  Accordingly, the Committee rose; and the Speaker pro tempore (Mr. 
Bass of New Hampshire) having assumed the chair, Mr. Woodall, Acting 
Chair of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, 
reported that that Committee, having had under consideration the bill 
(H.R. 5854) making appropriations for military construction, the 
Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for the fiscal 
year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes, had come to no 
resolution thereon.

                          ____________________