WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today commended the unanimous passage of critical veterans’ funding legislation that addresses several of Montana veterans’ long-standing concerns.
The Senate today passed the bipartisan FY 2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act that secures important reforms to increase Montana veterans’ access to health care services and ensure that all Montana veterans are treated with the utmost care and respect.
“Today Republicans and Democrats joined together to ensure our nation’s veterans have access to the services and support they deserve,” Daines stated. “Our veterans deserve the utmost care and respect, which is why Congress must work diligently to keep the promises made to them. Passage of this bill is an important step in that direction, but there is still work to be done. I will continue to work steadfastly to implement commonsense reforms at the VA to ensure our veterans receive quality medical care and the health care services they have earned and well deserve.
Daines also reaffirmed his frustration with Senate Democrats for blocking all other appropriations bills from being considered on the Senate floor:
“It is no mistake that a day before Veterans Day, Democrats finally allowed passage of just one of twelve appropriations bills to ensure funding of critical government services,” Daines stated. “While I’m proud that we were able to secure important provisions for our veterans today, it is deplorable that Senate Democrats continue to use our troops, our rural water projects and other vital programs as political pawns. I hope Senate Democrats will join Republicans in passing the remaining appropriations bills in the coming weeks.”
Daines successfully included an amendment in today’s appropriations bill to protect veterans’ ability to discuss with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) physicians the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal. Daines’ amendment passed the Committee on a bipartisan vote. The amendment would allow for parity between VA and non-VA facilities in states like Montana, which have medical marijuana programs. It does not change current laws preventing the possession or dispensing of marijuana on VA property, but simply allows veterans to discuss all options that are legally available in their state with their VA doctor.
Other priorities Daines, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, secured in this appropriations bill include:
- Ensures that veterans with service animals can bring those animals into VA facilities
- Directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to take into account the situations of large rural states when determining where to build new veterans’ homes
- Ensures Montana’s veterans without next-of-kin aren’t denied a VA-issued headstone
Last week, Daines applauded Senate Democrats for dropping their filibuster of this legislation and reiterated his call for Democrats to end their block on the bipartisan Defense Appropriations bill.