The Senate Military Construction-VA subcommittee abruptly postponed its markup of its $105.5 billion fiscal 2020 spending bill Friday after it had earlier in the day formally scheduled the session, according to CQ.
The committee had announced a markup session for Tuesday morning along with making available a draft of the bill for review in advance of the markup. The abrupt cancellation did not include an explanation for the postponement.
The MilCon-VA spending bill is usually a bipartisan effort, though it is uncertain if sharp partisan differences southern border barrier funding could become an issue prior to full Appropriations Committee action on the measure, according the report.
Subcommittee Chairman John Boozman (R-Ark.) said last week he would include $3.6 billion in replacement funding for military construction projects that the administration has deferred toward the southern border barrier construction effort. Democrats have balked at such funding replacement moves.
Another looming difference is that the pending bill currently does not include funds specifically targeted for additional southern barrier construction, which the GOP-led Senate supports. It’s also uncertain where such additional funding would be found, though the Democrat-led House’s MilCon-VA bill does have higher overall funding than the Senate’s $105.5 billion.
The House prioritized the VA in their bill, recommending a 9% boost over the current year, while MilCon would receive 2% more. To include additional border funding, Senate GOP appropriators would likely have to provide less for the VA as the agency is struggling with new costs to fund private health care options for veterans who face difficulties, the report said.
DOD photo by Reese Brown