The legislation would also support the Maine National Guard and veterans
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Subcommittee, announced today that the fiscal year (FY) 2022 MilCon-VA funding bill passed the Appropriations Committee by a vote of 25-5.
The bill includes $475 million for the Dry Dock #1 extension project at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) in Kittery. Currently, Dry Dock #1 can only accommodate Los Angeles-class submarines, which means it will be rendered obsolete when LA-class submarines are removed from service in the 2030s. Failure to modernize the dry dock will result in 20 deferred submarine maintenance availabilities through 2040, meaning Navy submarines would not be able to accomplish their missions. Senator Collins championed this funding throughout the Appropriations process and pressed the Navy Vice Admiral and the Chief of Naval Operations on the necessity of completing this project on time to avoid delays of required maintenance.
“The importance of our naval assets to our national security and global stability has never been greater. Through my senior position on the MilCon-VA Appropriations Subcommittee, I strongly advocated for this investment at PNSY so that the shipyard’s highly skilled employees can continue to successfully carry out their essential mission to maintain our submarine fleet,” said Senator Collins. “I have also worked hard to ensure that this bill supports veterans’ access to the quality health care they have earned. Additionally, this legislation will make important resources readily available for more military caregivers.”
The MilCon-VA funding bill would provide a total of $11 billion in defense and military construction discretionary funding and $112.9 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition to Dry Dock #1, provisions benefiting Maine that Senator Collins pushed for include:
· Maine National Guard Vehicle Maintenance Shop – Saco. $21.2 million for the new facility to support field and sustainment maintenance of combat vehicles and equipment for the Maine Guard.
· Caregivers. $1.4 billion to support the VA’s Caregivers Program, an increase of $50 million over the President’s budget request.
· Office of Rural Health. $327 million to support equipment for rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), transportation of rural veterans, and home-based therapies, an increase of $27 million over last year’s funding and $20 million over the President’s budget request.
· Homeless Veterans. $2.15 billion to support initiatives to help reduce homelessness among veterans.
· Mental Health/Veteran Crisis Line. $13.2 billion for suicide prevention outreach and treatment programs, including $256 M for the Veterans Crisis Line.
· Women Veterans’ Health Care. $820 million to support gender-specific care, an increase of $10 million over the President’s budget request.
· Medical and Prosthetic Research. $882 million to support research on prosthetic technologies and procedures.
· Care Close to Home. Includes report language authored by Senator Collins to direct the VA to ensure continuity of care for veterans that participated in the ARCH program.