EXPLANATORY STATEMENT REGARDING AMENDMENT NO. 5082 TO H.R. 5325
(Senate - September 22, 2016)

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[Pages S5989-S6035]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    EXPLANATORY STATEMENT REGARDING AMENDMENT NO. 5082 TO H.R. 5325

  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have an 
explanatory statement regarding Senate amendment No. 5082 to H.R. 5325 
printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT SUBMITTED BY MR. COCHRAN OF MISSISSIPPI, CHAIRMAN 
    OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS REGARDING THE SENATE 
                         AMENDMENT TO H.R. 5325

       The following is an explanation of the ``Continuing 
     Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, 
     and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, and Zika 
     Response and Preparedness Act''.
       This Act includes the Military Construction, Veterans 
     Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017 
     (Division A), the Zika Response and Preparedness 
     Appropriations Act, 2016 (Division B), the Continuing 
     Appropriations Act, 2017 (Division C), and a division on 
     rescissions of funds (Division D). H.R. 5325 was used as the 
     vehicle for the Senate amendment.
       Section 1 of the Act is the short title of the bill.
       Section 2 of the Act displays a table of contents.
       Section 3 of the Act states that, unless expressly provided 
     otherwise, any reference to ``this Act'' contained in any 
     division shall be treated as referring only to the provisions 
     of that division.
       Section 4 provides a statement of appropriations.
       Section 5 states that each amount designated by Congress as 
     an emergency requirement is contingent on the President so 
     designating all such emergency amounts and transmitting such 
     designations to Congress.
       Section 6 of the Act specifies that this explanatory 
     statement shall have the same effect with respect to the 
     allocation of funds and implementation of this Act as if it 
     were a joint explanatory statement of a committee of 
     conference, and it specifies that any reference to the 
     ``joint explanatory statement accompanying this Act'' 
     contained in division A shall be considered to be a reference 
     to this explanatory statement.
       References in this explanatory statement in division A 
     (Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related 
     Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017) to ``conferees'' are 
     deemed to be references to the Committees on Appropriations 
     of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and 
     references to the ``conference agreement'' are deemed to be 
     references to the recommendations in division A of this Act.
       The Act does not contain any congressional earmarks, 
     limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
     by clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of 
     Representatives.

   DIVISION A--MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, VETERANS AFFAIRS, AND RELATED 
                   AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2017

       The following is an explanation of the effects of Division 
     A, which makes appropriations for Military Construction, 
     Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies for fiscal year 2017. 
     Unless otherwise noted, reference to the House and Senate 
     reports are to House Report 114-497 and Senate Report 114-
     237. The language set forth in House Report 114-497 and 
     Senate Report 114-237 should be complied with and carry the 
     same emphasis as the language included in the joint 
     explanatory statement, unless specifically addressed to the 
     contrary in this joint explanatory statement. While repeating 
     some report language for emphasis, this joint explanatory 
     statement does not intend to negate the language referred to 
     above unless expressly provided herein. In cases in which the 
     House or the Senate has directed the submission of a report, 
     such report is to be submitted to both Houses of Congress. 
     House or Senate reporting requirements with deadlines prior 
     to, or within 15 days after enactment of this Act shall be 
     submitted not later than 60 days after enactment of this Act. 
     All other reporting deadlines not specifically directed by 
     this joint explanatory statement are to be met.

                     TITLE I--DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

       Bid Savings.--The conferees note that, given information 
     for cost variation notices required by 10 U.S.C. 2853, the 
     Department of Defense continues to have bid savings on 
     previously appropriated military construction projects. 
     Therefore, the agreement includes rescissions to the Army, 
     Air Force, and Defense-Wide construction accounts. The 
     Secretary of Defense is directed to continue to submit 1002 
     reports on military construction bid savings at the end of 
     each fiscal quarter to the Committees.
       Missile Defense.--The conferees remain committed to rapidly 
     implementing the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA). 
     Construction of the first Aegis Ashore missile defense site 
     in Deveselu, Romania, is complete and the site is 
     operational. The Committees fully funded construction of the 
     second site at Redzikowo, Poland, in fiscal year 2016, and 
     expect the Missile Defense Agency to pursue an aggressive 
     construction schedule to bring this critical asset online. 
     Additionally, the conference agreement fully funds the 
     request for the first phase of the Long Range Discrimination 
     Radar at Clear, Alaska. This radar will dramatically improve 
     our ability to effectively target ballistic missile threats 
     to the homeland coming from the Pacific. As the missile 
     threat continues to evolve, the conferees remain strongly 
     supportive of the expeditionary deployment of a Terminal High 
     Altitude Area Defense battery on Guam. The conferees 
     encourage the Department of Defense to consider making this 
     deployment permanent and request the appropriate military 
     construction projects in support of this critical mission be 
     requested in future budget submissions.
       Overseas Contingency Operations.--The conference agreement 
     includes House Title IV, Overseas Contingency Operations. The 
     Senate bill included funding for similar projects in Title I.
       Emerging Security Threats in Europe.--The conferees are 
     aware that heightened tensions between Russia and Europe 
     following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014 have increased 
     security threats to European nations, particularly in Eastern 
     Europe. In response to Russian aggression, the Administration 
     in 2014 announced the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) 
     to enhance allied security by increasing the presence and 
     joint training activities of U.S. military forces in 
     Europe. The ERI includes a number of military construction 
     projects funded in both fiscal year 2015 and in this Act. 
     The conferees note that although ERI military construction 
     funding was originally intended to be a

[[Page S5990]]

     one-time only investment, the evolving nature of the 
     threat has prompted the Department of Defense (DOD) to 
     expand its plans for investing in military construction to 
     support the continual presence of U.S. rotational military 
     forces in Europe, increased training activities with 
     European allies, and the prepositioning of Army combat-
     ready equipment in Poland to support an armored brigade 
     combat team.
       The conferees recognize the importance of providing 
     reassurance and security to the Nation's European allies, but 
     are concerned that DOD has not outlined a comprehensive plan 
     for military construction requirements to support the ERI. 
     Instead, the Committees have received ad hoc notifications of 
     proposed planning and design expenditures for projects in 
     support of the ERI, including a $200,000,000 facility for 
     prepositioning Army combat brigade equipment in Poland, and 
     nine ERI-related Air Force projects, primarily at U.S. Air 
     Force bases in Germany, estimated to cost a total of 
     $260,000,000.
       Given the magnitude of the planned ERI military 
     construction investment thus far, the conferees direct the 
     Secretary of Defense to provide to the Committees on 
     Appropriations of both Houses of Congress (the Committees), 
     with submission of the fiscal year 2018 budget request, a 
     comprehensive plan for military construction requirements 
     associated with the European Reassurance Initiative through 
     the fiscal year 2018 Future Years Defense Program.
       The conferees further direct the Comptroller General of the 
     United States to provide to the Committees, not later than 
     one year after the date of enactment of this Act, a report 
     evaluating the extent to which the Department of Defense has 
     developed a comprehensive force structure plan, including 
     military construction requirements, to meet emerging security 
     threats in Europe. The report shall include an assessment of 
     the extent to which the Department has:
       (1) identified the near-term and long-term United States 
     military force requirements in Europe in support of the 
     European Reassurance Initiative;
       (2) evaluated the posture, force structure, and military 
     construction options for meeting projected force 
     requirements;
       (3) evaluated the long-term costs associated with the 
     posture, force structure, and military construction 
     requirements; and
       (4) developed a Future Years Defense Program for force 
     structure costs associated with the European Reassurance 
     Initiative.
       The report shall also include any other matters related to 
     security threats in Europe that the Comptroller General 
     determines are appropriate, and recommendations as warranted 
     for improvements to the Department's planning and analysis 
     methodology. The reports shall be provided in the appropriate 
     classified and unclassified formats.
       Al Udeid Air Base Mold Contamination.--The conferees are 
     concerned about reports that airmen serving at Al Udeid Air 
     Base in Qatar were living in dangerously contaminated 
     barracks. On social media and later in the press, reports 
     detailed collapsing ceilings, contaminated water, and toxic 
     black mold found throughout the facility. The Committees have 
     raised concerns in the past about low levels of funding for 
     facility sustainment, restoration and modernization, and if 
     the black mold issues at Al Udeid were a result of a lack of 
     funding for maintenance, that is unacceptable. Also, the 
     conferees are aware that the Department of Defense Inspector 
     General released a report in September 2014 (DODIG-2014-121) 
     that identified 1,057 deficiencies and code violations ``that 
     could affect the health, safety, and well-being of 
     warfighters and their families'' stationed in Japan. Included 
     among the deficiencies were elevated levels of radon and 
     excessive mold growth. In light of the Inspector General 
     report and the reports from Al Udeid, the conferees direct 
     the Department to submit a report to the congressional 
     defense committees not later than 180 days after enactment of 
     this Act detailing global military housing and expeditionary 
     facilities locations with mold contamination, mitigation 
     strategies implemented or expected to be in place, and any 
     new construction standards designed to prevent mold 
     contamination.


                      MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, ARMY

       The conference agreement provides $513,459,000 for Military 
     Construction, Army. Within this amount, the conference 
     agreement provides $98,159,000 for study, planning, design, 
     architect and engineer services, and host nation support.
       Aging Army hangars for Combat Aviation Units.--The 
     conferees recognize that the Army's aging hangars housing 
     combat aviation units are structurally deficient and do not 
     meet the operational requirements of the Army's Combat 
     Aviation Brigades. A critical need exists for the Army to 
     modernize infrastructure associated with operational needs, 
     inclement weather, personnel changes, and unforeseen 
     circumstances. The conferees direct the Secretary of the Army 
     to submit a report to the congressional defense committees 
     not later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act 
     detailing the age and condition of the Army's Combat Aviation 
     Brigade aircraft maintenance hangars, a prioritization of 
     the most deficient infrastructure assets, and a plan to 
     modernize or replace those hangars, including the required 
     resources.
       Air traffic control facilities.--The conferees are 
     concerned that many of the Army's air traffic control 
     facilities are unsafe, antiquated, and do not provide 
     adequate control, communications or observation abilities for 
     the current air traffic levels at certain locations. For 
     example, the current facility located at Fort Benning, 
     Georgia, will become wholly inadequate at the current pace of 
     operations and a replacement facility is necessary to ensure 
     air traffic services are available to support mission 
     readiness and deployment platforms and the military flying 
     community. The conferees are concerned that this could be a 
     problem throughout the Army enterprise with the recent 
     reductions to the Department of Defense's construction 
     accounts. Therefore, the Secretary of the Army is directed to 
     conduct a risk assessment on Army air traffic control 
     facilities throughout the Army enterprise and develop a plan 
     to update these facilities. This assessment shall be 
     submitted to the congressional defense committees not later 
     than 60 days after enactment of this Act.
       Defense Laboratory Enterprise Facilities and 
     Infrastructure.--The conferees note that DOD investment in 
     Defense laboratories has been lacking, resulting in negative 
     impacts on the ability of the military to develop new 
     acquisition programs or perform cutting-edge research. At the 
     same time, the Nation's near-peer competitors are making 
     significant new investments in their research and development 
     capabilities as part of the effort to close the technology 
     gap with the U.S. military. Of additional concern, aging lab 
     infrastructure also creates a disincentive to attracting new 
     employees as DOD tries to rebuild its technical workforce.
       One of the tools that Congress has provided to incentivize 
     DOD lab investment is the establishment of a higher threshold 
     for unspecified minor military construction (UMMC) for 
     laboratories to enable the services to keep up with a threat 
     that evolves faster than the normal planning process. 
     However, the conferees are concerned that the services are 
     not programming sufficient UMMC to take full advantage of the 
     laboratory revitalization initiative. For example, in fiscal 
     year 2016, the Army, which operates an extensive network of 
     DOD labs, did not allocate any unspecified minor military 
     construction funding for necessary laboratory revitalization 
     projects, and the request for UMMC in the Army has remained 
     flat at $25,000,000. Therefore, the conference agreement 
     provides an additional $10,000,000 to supplement unspecified 
     minor military construction, and the Army is encouraged to 
     pursue opportunities to use the additional funding for lab 
     revitalization.


              MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, NAVY AND MARINE CORPS

       The conference agreement provides $1,021,580,000 for 
     Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps. Within this 
     amount, the conference agreement provides $88,230,000 for 
     study, planning, design, architect and engineer services.
       Military Construction funding for the Navy and Marine 
     Corps.--Conferees are concerned about the need for the 
     construction of an F-35C aircraft maintenance hangar, a 
     communications complex and infrastructure upgrades, and an F-
     35C aircraft parking apron for the Marine Corps' four F-35C 
     squadrons on the West Coast. This construction supports 
     Carrier Air Wing operations with the USS Carl Vinson as 
     the first F-35C compatible ship on the West Coast in 
     support of the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility. The 
     Marine Corps has identified these projects as its top 
     priorities, critical to the F-35C squadrons and the 
     conferees support these priorities.
       Townsend Bombing Range.--Concerns still remain regarding 
     the Townsend Bombing Range and its effect on the local timber 
     industry. While the Navy and local stakeholders have started 
     a dialogue, an agreement has not yet been reached. The 
     conferees look forward to an agreement that meets the Navy's 
     training needs and protects local timber stakeholders.
       Navy Unfunded Reprogramming Requirements.--The Committees 
     were recently informed that the Navy has been underestimating 
     the cost of major construction projects over the past several 
     years due to unrealistic cost assumptions and a flawed 
     construction cost formula. The Navy acknowledges that it has 
     been aware of this problem for some time but had taken no 
     action to remedy the deficiencies in its construction cost 
     estimating process or to notify the Committees in a timely 
     manner of the situation or its potential impact on the 
     execution of projects. As a result, the Navy is faced with a 
     large inventory of underfunded projects, and insufficient 
     unobligated balances from bid savings or cancelled projects 
     to cover the shortfall. Thus, a number of authorized projects 
     for which funds have been appropriated over the past several 
     years are at risk due to insufficient funds to award a 
     contract.
       The conferees provide an additional $89,400,000 in this 
     Act, to address the Navy's highest priority urgent unfunded 
     reprogramming requirements as well as unanticipated emergency 
     construction requirements. However, the conferees are 
     concerned that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and 
     that additional underfunded projects for which no ready 
     source of reprogramming funds is available will emerge. 
     Therefore, the conferees direct the Secretary of the Navy 
     to reassess the sufficiency of the appropriation request 
     for all previously appropriated projects for which 
     contracts have not been awarded, and to provide to the 
     congressional

[[Page S5991]]

     defense committees, within 60 days of enactment of this 
     Act, (1) a detailed analysis of the process and decisions 
     that led to the underestimating of construction costs, (2) 
     the revised cost estimate, if applicable, for any project 
     that is estimated to be underfunded due to unrealistic 
     cost assumptions and/or a flawed construction cost 
     formula, (3) a plan of how the Navy intends to address the 
     shortfall within its own resources, including the 
     identification of any previously appropriated projects 
     that might have to be cancelled, and (4) a description of 
     the steps it is taking to remedy the cost estimating 
     process for future construction projects.
       The conferees further direct the Secretary of Defense to 
     review the construction cost formulas used to develop 
     military construction appropriation requests by the Naval 
     Facilities Engineering Command and the U.S. Army Corps of 
     Engineers to assess the reliability of the formulas, and to 
     report to the congressional defense committees within 90 days 
     of enactment of this Act on its findings and any 
     recommendations to improve the fidelity of the construction 
     cost formulas.
       All the services, including the Navy, have informed the 
     Committees for the past several years that construction costs 
     have been rising with the improving economy and the rebound 
     of the construction market, and that bid savings have been 
     subsequently decreasing. The conferees believe there is no 
     excuse for the Navy's inability to or failure to address this 
     problem, and fully expect a sound and justifiable cost 
     estimate for any military construction projects submitted in 
     the fiscal year 2018 and future budget requests.


                    MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, AIR FORCE

       The conference agreement provides $1,491,058,000 for 
     Military Construction, Air Force. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $143,582,000 for study, 
     planning, design, architect and engineer services. 
     Additionally, the conference agreement rescinds $23,900,000 
     for three fiscal year 2014 projects in Saipan, Commonwealth 
     of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), to support Air Force 
     training exercises and provide an emergency divert location. 
     The conferees are concerned that the Air Force has been 
     unable to reach a land use agreement with the Government of 
     the CNMI despite extensive negotiations, and no resolution to 
     the issue is imminent. Therefore, the funding is rescinded 
     without prejudice, and the Air Force is urged to resubmit the 
     projects once agreement on the location is finalized and the 
     projects can be executed.
       Air Force Facility Security Requirements.--The conferees 
     are concerned with the Department's funding recommendation 
     for the Air Force's unspecified minor military construction 
     account. An additional $10,000,000 is provided to assist 
     installations in the continental U.S. with significant 
     facility entry and exit point concerns. Priority should be 
     given to installations with access control points that 
     present safety, security and traffic hazards.
       Air Force Ballistic Missile Facilities.--The conferees are 
     aware that ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile 
     (ICBM) facilities at the Nation's three ICBM bases in 
     Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming are aging and in urgent 
     need of replacement. At a time of increased global tensions 
     among nuclear-capable nations, it is imperative to replace 
     crumbling and outdated ICBM infrastructure at U.S. 
     installations with state-of-the-art nuclear deterrence 
     facilities. Key to this effort is the replacement of the 
     Cuban missile crisis-era Weapons Storage Facilities and 
     Missile Alert Facilities at each of the ICBM bases. The 
     conferees understand that the Air Force has developed a 
     funding roadmap to replace the Weapons Storage Facilities 
     (WSFs) at each ICBM base but are concerned that the current 
     timeline for implementation of the roadmap is not 
     sufficiently aggressive in light of the urgency of upgrading 
     these facilities to meet current threat conditions. Given the 
     failing condition of the current WSFs and the importance of 
     the ground-based ICBM capability to the Nation's nuclear 
     deterrence, the conferees urge the Air Force to prioritize 
     and accelerate the replacement of the WSFs as well as the 
     Nuclear Alert Facilities at ICBM bases. The conferees 
     reiterate the directive in Senate Report 114-237 for the 
     Secretary of the Air Force to undertake an analysis of the 
     cost of maintaining the existing Missile Alert Facilities at 
     the Nation's ICBM bases and to provide a report to the 
     Committees within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the 
     findings of the analysis and a projected cost and timeline 
     for replacing the Weapons Alert Facilities at each of these 
     bases. The conferees also direct the Secretary of Defense to 
     assess the feasibility of using Defense Access Road funding 
     and other sources of funding to build alternate routes for 
     military equipment traveling on public roads to missile 
     launch facilities, taking into consideration the proximity of 
     local populations, security risks, safety, and weather, and 
     to provide a report to the Committees within one year of 
     enactment of this Act.


                  MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, DEFENSE-WIDE

                     (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)

       The conference agreement provides $2,025,444,000 for 
     Military Construction, Defense-Wide. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $180,775,000 for study, 
     planning, design, architect and engineer services. Within 
     this amount, an additional $15,000,000 is provided for 
     Missile Defense Agency planning and design. The additional 
     funding is to expedite the construction and deployment of 
     urgently needed missile defense assets in various locations 
     within the continental United States, including Alaska and 
     Hawaii.
       Pentagon Metro entrance facility.--The conference agreement 
     includes funding for the Pentagon Metro entrance facility 
     project as requested in the budget submission. The conferees 
     remain concerned that this facility needs to be constructed 
     in a manner that will further enhance the physical access and 
     perimeter defense of the building in accordance with the 
     Integrated Pentagon Security Master Plan and the Pentagon 
     Century Review. Given that the design is only at 10 percent 
     at this point, the conferees direct the Secretary of Defense 
     to report to the congressional defense committees quarterly 
     on the progress of the planning and design and any major 
     construction changes to the current project's 1391.


               MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

       The conference agreement provides $232,930,000 for Military 
     Construction, Army National Guard. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $8,729,000 for study, planning, 
     design, architect and engineer services.


               MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, AIR NATIONAL GUARD

       The conference agreement provides $143,957,000 for Military 
     Construction, Air National Guard. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $10,462,000 for study, 
     planning, design, architect and engineer services.


                  MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, ARMY RESERVE

       The conference agreement provides $68,230,000 for Military 
     Construction, Army Reserve. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $7,500,000 for study, planning, 
     design, architect and engineer services.


                  MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, NAVY RESERVE

       The conference agreement provides $38,597,000 for Military 
     Construction, Navy Reserve. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $3,783,000 for study, planning, 
     design, architect and engineer services.


                MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, AIR FORCE RESERVE

       The conference agreement provides $188,950,000 for Military 
     Construction, Air Force Reserve. Within this amount, the 
     conference agreement provides $4,500,000 for study, planning, 
     design, architect and engineer services.


     NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION SECURITY INVESTMENT PROGRAM

       The conference agreement provides $177,932,000 for the 
     North Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Investment 
     Program.


               DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE BASE CLOSURE ACCOUNT

       The conference agreement provides $240,237,000 for the 
     Department of Defense Base Closure Account, which is 
     $35,000,000 above the request. The additional funding is for 
     the Army and the Navy to accelerate environmental remediation 
     at installations closed under previous Base Realignment and 
     Closure (BRAC) rounds.
       Accelerated cleanup.--The conferees recognize that many 
     factors hinder the cleanup of BRAC sites. However, the 
     conferees believe that strategic investments can lead to 
     quicker clean-ups and faster turnover of DOD property to the 
     local community. Therefore, the conferees direct the 
     Secretary of Defense to submit to the congressional defense 
     committees a spend plan for the additional BRAC funds not 
     later than 15 days after enactment of this Act.

                        Family Housing Overview

       Homeowners Assistance Program--Delayed Expression or 
     Delayed Identification of Injured Beneficiaries.--As the 
     Executive Agent for the Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP) 
     across the Department of Defense, the Army mistakenly 
     administered approximately 76 applicants whose injuries were 
     incurred during a military deployment, while they owned a 
     home, and experienced delayed expression or delayed 
     identification of the injury. The applicants were paid in 
     good faith and in accordance with guidance from Congress and 
     the Department of Defense to err in favor of wounded, ill, 
     and injured HAP applicants. If these beneficiaries had 
     suffered from an obvious physical injury--which the HAP 
     statute envisioned--their injury would have been clearly 
     documented at the time they owned their home, and they would 
     have qualified for HAP benefits. Therefore, no funds from 
     this Act shall be used to collect overpayments for any 
     wounded, ill, or injured HAP beneficiary with delayed 
     expression or delayed identification, or send notice letters, 
     while the Department further develops permanent legislative 
     solutions with Congress.


                   FAMILY HOUSING CONSTRUCTION, ARMY

       The conference agreement provides $157,172,000 for Family 
     Housing Construction, Army.
  



             FAMILY HOUSING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE, ARMY

       The conference agreement provides $325,995,000 for Family 
     Housing Operation and Maintenance, Army.


           FAMILY HOUSING CONSTRUCTION, NAVY AND MARINE CORPS

       The conference agreement provides $94,011,000 for Family 
     Housing Construction, Navy and Marine Corps.


    FAMILY HOUSING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE, NAVY AND MARINE CORPS

       The conference agreement provides $300,915,000 for Family 
     Housing Operation and Maintenance, Navy and Marine Corps.

[[Page S5992]]

  



                 FAMILY HOUSING CONSTRUCTION, AIR FORCE

       The conference agreement provides $61,352,000 for Family 
     Housing Construction, Air Force.


          FAMILY HOUSING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE, AIR FORCE

       The conference agreement provides $274,429,000 for Family 
     Housing Operation and Maintenance, Air Force.


         FAMILY HOUSING OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE, DEFENSE-WIDE

       The conference agreement provides $59,157,000 for Family 
     Housing Operation and Maintenance, Defense-Wide.


         DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FAMILY HOUSING IMPROVEMENT FUND

       The conference agreement provides $3,258,000 for the 
     Department of Defense Family Housing Improvement Fund.

                       ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS


             (INCLUDING TRANSFERS AND RESCISSIONS OF FUNDS)

       The conference agreement includes section 101 limiting the 
     use of funds under a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract.
       The conference agreement includes section 102 allowing the 
     use of construction funds in this title for hire of passenger 
     motor vehicles.
       The conference agreement includes section 103 allowing the 
     use of construction funds in this title for advances to the 
     Federal Highway Administration for the construction of access 
     roads.
       The conference agreement includes section 104 prohibiting 
     construction of new bases in the United States without a 
     specific appropriation.
       The conference agreement includes section 105 limiting the 
     use of funds for the purchase of land or land easements that 
     exceed 100 percent of the value.
       The conference agreement includes section 106 prohibiting 
     the use of funds, except funds appropriated in this title for 
     that purpose, for family housing.
       The conference agreement includes section 107 limiting the 
     use of minor construction funds to transfer or relocate 
     activities.
       The conference agreement includes section 108 prohibiting 
     the procurement of steel unless American producers, 
     fabricators, and manufacturers have been allowed to compete.
       The conference agreement includes section 109 prohibiting 
     the use of construction or family housing funds to pay real 
     property taxes in any foreign nation.
       The conference agreement includes section 110 prohibiting 
     the use of funds to initiate a new installation overseas 
     without prior notification.
       The conference agreement includes section 111 establishing 
     a preference for American architectural and engineering 
     services for overseas projects.
       The conference agreement includes section 112 establishing 
     a preference for American contractors in United States 
     territories and possessions in the Pacific and on Kwajalein 
     Atoll and in countries bordering the Arabian Gulf.
       The conference agreement includes section 113 requiring 
     congressional notification of military exercises when 
     construction costs exceed $100,000.
       The conference agreement includes section 114 allowing 
     funds appropriated in prior years for new projects authorized 
     during the current session of Congress.
       The conference agreement includes section 115 allowing the 
     use of expired or lapsed funds to pay the cost of supervision 
     for any project being completed with lapsed funds.
       The conference agreement includes section 116 allowing 
     military construction funds to be available for five years.
       The conference agreement includes section 117 allowing the 
     transfer of funds from Family Housing Construction accounts 
     to the Family Housing Improvement Program.
       The conference agreement includes section 118 allowing 
     transfers to the Homeowners Assistance Fund.
       The conference agreement includes section 119 limiting the 
     source of operation and maintenance funds for flag and 
     general officer quarters and allowing for notification by 
     electronic medium.
       The conference agreement includes section 120 extending the 
     availability of funds in the Ford Island Improvement Account.
       The conference agreement includes section 121 allowing the 
     transfer of expired funds to the Foreign Currency 
     Fluctuations, Construction, Defense account.
       The conference agreement includes section 122 restricting 
     the obligation of funds for relocating an Army unit that 
     performs a testing mission.
       The conference agreement includes section 123 allowing for 
     the reprogramming of construction funds among projects and 
     activities subject to certain criteria.
       The conference agreement includes section 124 prohibiting 
     the obligation or expenditure of funds provided to the 
     Department of Defense for military construction for projects 
     at Arlington National Cemetery.
       The conference agreement includes section 125 providing 
     additional funds for various Military Construction accounts.
       The conference agreement includes section 126 providing 
     additional funds for Military Construction, Navy and Marine 
     Corps.
       The conference agreement includes section 127 rescinding 
     funds from prior Appropriations Acts from various accounts.
       The conference agreement includes section 128 rescinding 
     unobligated balances from the fund established by Sec. 
     1013(d) of 42 U.S.C. 3374.
       The conference agreement includes section 129 defining the 
     congressional defense committees.
       The conference agreement includes section 130 prohibiting 
     the use of funds in this Act to close or realign Naval 
     Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The provision is intended to 
     prevent the closure or realignment of the installation out of 
     the possession of the United States, and maintain the Naval 
     Station's long-standing regional security and migrant 
     operations missions.
       The conference agreement includes section 131 restricting 
     funds in this Act to be used to consolidate or relocate any 
     element of Air Force Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy 
     Operational Repair Squadron Engineer until certain conditions 
     are met.

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                TITLE II--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

      Veterans Benefits Administration--Compensation and Pensions


                     (including transfer of funds)

       The conference agreement provides $90,119,449,000 for 
     Compensation and Pensions in advance for fiscal year 2018. Of 
     the amount provided, not more than $17,224,000 is to be 
     transferred to General Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits 
     Administration (VBA) and Information Technology Systems for 
     reimbursement of necessary expenses in implementing 
     provisions of title 38.


                         readjustment benefits

       The conference agreement provides $13,708,648,000 for 
     Readjustment Benefits in advance for fiscal year 2018.


                   veterans insurance and indemnities

       The conference agreement provides $107,899,000 for Veterans 
     Insurance and Indemnities in advance for fiscal year 2018, as 
     well as an additional $16,605,000 for fiscal year 2017.


                 veterans housing benefit program fund

       The conference agreement provides such sums as may be 
     necessary for costs associated with direct and guaranteed 
     loans for the Veterans Housing Benefit Program Fund. The 
     agreement limits obligations for direct loans to not more 
     than $500,000 and provides that $198,856,000 shall be 
     available for administrative expenses.


            vocational rehabilitation loans program account

       The conference agreement provides $36,000 for the cost of 
     direct loans from the Vocational Rehabilitation Loans Program 
     Account, plus $389,000 to be paid to the appropriation for 
     General Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration. 
     The agreement provides for a direct loan limitation of 
     $2,517,000.


          native american veteran housing loan program account

       The conference agreement provides $1,163,000 for 
     administrative expenses of the Native American Veteran 
     Housing Loan Program Account.


      general operating expenses, veterans benefits administration

       The conference agreement provides $2,856,160,000 for 
     General Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration 
     and makes available not to exceed 5 percent of this funding 
     until the end of fiscal year 2018. The full request for the 
     Veterans Benefits Management System is provided in the 
     agreement, which includes $37,356,000 from this account and 
     $143,000,000 from the Information Technology Systems account. 
     The agreement also includes the full budget request of 
     $26,695,000 for the centralized mail initiative and 
     $152,924,000 for the Veterans Claim Intake Program (VCIP), 
     which is $10,000,000 above the request.
       The placement of the General Operating Expenses, Veterans 
     Benefits Administration account in the bill has been moved 
     from Departmental Administration to Veterans Benefits 
     Administration to align the administrative expenses of VBA 
     with its program activities.
       Disability claims backlog.--The conferees commend the 
     Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on its efforts to reduce 
     the disability claims backlog and increase the accuracy of 
     claims decisions, and is committed to ensuring that VA 
     maintains its goal of processing all claims within 125 days 
     with 98 percent accuracy. The Committees are also committed 
     to ensuring there is not a recurrence of any sizeable backlog 
     or a reduction in accuracy and will continue to assert their 
     oversight by monitoring on a monthly and quarterly basis each 
     regional office's timeliness and accuracy performance 
     measures.
       The conference agreement includes section 228 which 
     requires VBA to submit a quarterly report with the following 
     data from each VBA regional office: (1) the average time to 
     complete a disability compensation claim; (2) the number of 
     claims pending more than 125 days, disaggregated by initial 
     and supplemental claims; (3) error rates; (4) the number of 
     claims personnel; (5) any corrective action taken within the 
     quarter to address poor performance; (6) training programs 
     undertaken; (7) the number and results of Quality Review Team 
     audits; (8) the number of claims completed by each regional 
     office based on the regional office being the station of 
     jurisdiction; and (9) the number of claims completed by 
     each regional office based on the regional office being 
     the station of origin.
       Regional office performance.--The conferees have been 
     disturbed by repeated reports of manipulation of records and 
     benefit data at several VBA regional offices, as well as 
     irregular personnel practices that have jeopardized sound 
     management of the regional offices. The conferees urge VA to 
     monitor regional office performance to make certain that 
     personnel and claims management activities remain fully 
     transparent and comply with overall VA regulations and 
     handbooks.
       Equitable relief.--The conferees urge the Secretary to 
     continue to grant or extend equitable relief to eligible 
     veterans initially deemed eligible in instances of 
     administrative error.
       Service satisfaction rates among women veterans.--The 
     conferees direct VA to provide to the Committees not later 
     than the beginning of fiscal year 2017 an analysis of trends 
     and satisfaction rates among women veterans participating 
     in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program to 
     ensure these services are adapting to the changing 
     demographics of veterans and the needs of women veterans 
     with disabilities.
       Disability benefits questionnaires.--The conferees expect 
     VA to meet with Members of Congress to explain their plans to 
     develop additional disability benefits questionnaires (DBQs) 
     for chronic multi-system illnesses experienced by veterans 
     for which DBQs do not exist. Moreover, the conferees urge the 
     Department to make permanent the period for filing Gulf War 
     presumptive claims under 38 CFR 3.317.

            Veterans Health Administration Medical Services

       The conference agreement provides $44,886,554,000 in 
     advance for fiscal year 2018 for Medical Services and makes 
     $1,400,000,000 of the advance available through fiscal year 
     2019. The agreement also provides $1,078,993,000 for fiscal 
     year 2017 in addition to the advance appropriation provided 
     last year. The fiscal year 2018 advance funding for medical 
     services is $6,786,446,000 lower than the fiscal year 2017 
     advance because of Department projections that increased 
     amounts of medical care will be provided through the Medical 
     Community Care account.
       Given that there may be significant unfunded liabilities 
     created by the winding down of the Choice Act, the conference 
     agreement includes bill language in section 232 permitting 
     the transfer of funding from multiple VA appropriations 
     accounts to Medical Services to address unfunded needs.
       The conference agreement includes bill language requiring 
     the Secretary to ensure that sufficient amounts are available 
     for the acquisition of prosthetics designed specifically for 
     female veterans and to provide access to therapeutic 
     listening devices to veterans with mental health or substance 
     abuse problems or traumatic brain injury.
       Curing Hepatitis C within the veteran population.--The 
     Department is to be commended for robustly treating veterans 
     with Hepatitis C (HCV), which is a particular concern because 
     the veteran population is twice as likely to have the virus 
     as the general population. Available HCV drugs have a cure 
     rate of 96 percent, and early, preventative treatments avoid 
     tens of thousands of dollars in future healthcare spending. 
     To that end, the agreement includes funding for the treatment 
     of Hepatitis C of $1,500,000,000 in fiscal year 2017, which 
     is $840,000,000 above the President's request. The conferees 
     understand that because of an uneven start to the Hepatitis C 
     campaign due to funding interruptions, VA projects there will 
     be a carryover of fiscal year 2016 funding that will increase 
     the resources available in fiscal year 2017. The conferees 
     are pleased that recent price reductions in the new Hepatitis 
     C drugs will allow VA to treat patients faster and reach 
     their target goal of treating all veterans with Hepatitis C 
     years earlier than projected.
       The conferees encourage VA to work to remove any barriers 
     to timely screening and treatment for veterans with Hepatitis 
     C, including maximizing the use of rapid testing techniques. 
     Rapid testing can be especially helpful in reaching veterans 
     who are medically underserved or who live long distances from 
     VA facilities.
       To assist in congressional oversight, VA is directed to 
     continue to report to the Committees in quarterly briefings 
     the number of veterans treated to date, the number of 
     veterans treated each week, the number of veterans pronounced 
     cured to date, the projected number of new cases, and the 
     estimate of veterans likely to be cured during the next 
     quarter. VA is also directed to report quarterly to the 
     Committees obligations for funding Hepatitis C treatments as 
     part of the larger crosscutting VA quarterly financial report 
     required in section 218.
       Program priorities.--The conference agreement provides the 
     following fiscal year 2017 funding for these high priority 
     areas: $243,483,000 for readjustment counseling at Vet 
     Centers; $535,400,000 for gender-specific healthcare, which 
     is $20,000,000 higher than the administration request; 
     $734,628,000 for the caregivers program, which is $10,000,000 
     above the request; $257,477,000 for the homeless grant and 
     per diem program, which is $10,000,000 above the request; and 
     $320,000,000 for the homeless supportive services for low 
     income veterans and families, which is $20,000,000 above the 
     request.
       Rural healthcare.--The conference agreement includes the 
     full budget request of $250,000,000 for the Office of Rural 
     Health (ORH) and the Rural Health Initiative. In addition to 
     any directives contained in the House and Senate reports, the 
     conferees direct that ORH coordinate directly with the 
     Readjustment Counseling Service to develop and implement a 
     strategy to expand the capacity of Vet Centers in order to 
     ensure that the readjustment and psychological counseling 
     needs of veterans in rural and highly rural communities are 
     met. The conferees also direct VA to identify ways to obtain 
     more accurate data on homeless and at-risk veterans in 
     rural areas, as instructed in the Senate report. The 
     conference agreement includes a one-year extension through 
     fiscal year 2017 of the Access Received Closer to Home 
     (ARCH) program, which provides care to veterans in areas 
     without extensive access to VA health facilities. This 
     extension is necessary to maintain veterans' access to 
     healthcare during the transition as VA moves to 
     consolidate its non-VA healthcare programs. The conferees 
     encourage VA to expand its use of telehealth for rural 
     areas

[[Page S6006]]

     since the technique has proven particularly helpful in 
     mental health and primary care health delivery.
       Mental health.--The conference agreement provides the full 
     budget request for all VA mental health services and 
     programs, with additional resources within Medical Services 
     provided for the Veterans Crisis Line and the National 
     Centers for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. The conference 
     agreement includes $40,000,000 for the National Centers and 
     $78,572,000 for the Veterans Crisis Line. Overall, the 
     agreement includes $173,005,000 for suicide prevention 
     outreach. The conference agreement includes bill language in 
     section 238 similar to that contained in the House bill that 
     requires certain professional standards for the suicide 
     hotline.
       Opioid safety.--To respond to the urgency of the opioid 
     overdose epidemic, the Department is directed to continue to 
     comply with the guidance included in the fiscal year 2016 
     conference report under the paragraph ``Opioid Safety.'' VA 
     is also directed to make public the findings of the Office of 
     Accountability Review investigation into accusations of 
     widespread retaliation against whistleblowers at the Tomah VA 
     Medical Center as well as the outside clinical review. The 
     Department is encouraged to utilize the full spectrum of 
     treatment options for dealing with opioid addiction and 
     expand the use of medication-assisted treatment and other 
     clinically appropriate services to achieve and maintain 
     abstinence from all opioids. The conferees believe it is 
     important for the Department to report necessary information 
     to State-run prescription drug monitoring programs as this 
     will ensure VA providers have the tools they need to better 
     identify at-risk veterans.
       The conferees are aware that only 14 States require their 
     physicians to take pain management education credits. The 
     conferees urge VA to ensure that healthcare providers learn 
     the latest pain management techniques, understand safe 
     prescribing practices, and be able to spot the signs of 
     potential substance use disorders. The conferees believe that 
     comprehensive training in the proper use of pain management 
     medications is a vital step in combating the opioid problem.
       Choice Program delays.--VA data indicate that the number of 
     veterans waiting more than 30 days for an appointment is 
     actually higher now than when the Veterans Choice Program was 
     initiated. The conferees are concerned that this well-
     intentioned program was cobbled together quickly given the 
     time constraints, which has contributed to delays. Further, 
     an often-cited problem with the Choice Program is the lack of 
     clear communications regarding the eligibility requirements 
     of the program to both veterans and non-VA providers. The 
     conferees believe that understanding the obstacles to 
     efficient scheduling of appointments of veterans and swift 
     reimbursement for providers would serve as crucial first 
     steps in resolving some of these issues. The conferees urge 
     VA and its third party providers to address the delays and 
     the communication errors plaguing implementation of the 
     Choice Program.
       Nursing authority.--The conferees recognize that VA has 
     recently published a proposed rule indicating that it is 
     considering the issue of granting full practice authority to 
     some or all of the four advanced practice nursing 
     disciplines. The proposed rule indicates that decision will 
     be reflected in the final rule, after consideration of all 
     the public comments received. In addition, the Under 
     Secretary for Health has testified that he plans to consider 
     as an important variable whether there are significant 
     shortages of the affiliated physician specialties throughout 
     the VA system, which would validate the need for full 
     practice authority for those advanced practice nurse 
     specialties. The conferees urge VA to carefully and 
     thoughtfully seek additional input from internal and external 
     stakeholders prior to publishing the final rule. The 
     conferees encourage VA to make all possible outreach efforts 
     to communicate the changes contained in the proposed rule, 
     gather public comments, and collaborate with Congress, 
     affected stakeholders, VA physician and nursing staffs, and 
     external organizations.
       National Veteran Sports Programs.--The conference agreement 
     includes $9,005,000, which is the budget request for the 
     Office of the National Veterans Sports Programs and Special 
     Events. The conferees concur with the movement of this office 
     to the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the 
     agreement includes necessary bill language in section 257 to 
     permit VHA to carry out the Office's activities.
       Patient consults.--The conferees direct VA to report not 
     later than 30 days after the beginning of fiscal year 2017 on 
     specific quality controls that have been implemented to 
     ensure that patient consults are handled in a timely manner.
       Collaboration with historically black health professions 
     schools.--As described in the House and Senate reports, the 
     conferees urge VA to increase its collaboration with the 
     larger, urban hospitals with historically black health 
     professions schools. The Secretary is directed, as in 
     previous conference reports, to convene a symposium where 
     minority collaboration concerns are discussed and addressed.
       Leveraging private sector programs.--The conferees 
     encourage VA to integrate into VA settings private sector 
     programs that adapt information technologies and data 
     interoperability capabilities to better coordinate healthcare 
     services for veterans, as described in the House report.
       Medical residency positions.--The conferees note that, to 
     date, the Department has not submitted to the Committees a 
     report that was directed in the explanatory statement 
     accompanying Public Law 114-113 detailing current 
     coordination with the Direct Graduate Medical Education 
     Program, limitations that may restrict VA's program and 
     ability to expand to underserved areas, and a plan to more 
     effectively carry out VA's graduate medical education program 
     within constraints that exist in the Direct Graduate Medical 
     Education program. The conferees understand that the 
     Department is reviewing comments provided by the Department 
     of Health and Human Services' Center for Medicare and 
     Medicaid Services and direct VA to move as expeditiously as 
     possible in its review and submit the report to the 
     Committees. Further, the conferees direct that VA provide an 
     update to the Committees not later than 15 days after 
     enactment of this Act on the status of this report and a 
     timeline for submission.
       Rehabilitation equipment.--The conferees are aware that the 
     Department currently purchases or reimburses veterans for 
     recumbent bicycles or hand cycles used for rehabilitative 
     purposes only and does not cover the cost of upright 
     bicycles. Given the many veterans in physical or mental 
     rehabilitation programs who are able to use upright bicycles, 
     the conferees urge the Department to make upright bicycles 
     eligible for reimbursement to qualifying veterans. In 
     addition, the conferees direct the Department to submit to 
     the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress 
     (hereafter ``the Committees'') a report not later than the 
     beginning of fiscal year 2017 outlining the steps needed to 
     be taken to make upright bicycles eligible for reimbursement.


                         medical community care

       The conference agreement provides $7,246,181,000 for 
     Medical Community Care, the account created in the Surface 
     Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement 
     Act to consolidate all the VA programs that provide care 
     for veterans in the community from non-VA providers. 
     Section 217 of the conference agreement rescinds an 
     identical amount from the Medical Services account. The 
     agreement also provides $9,409,118,000 in advance fiscal 
     year 2018 funding for this account. Of the fiscal year 
     2017 funding, $2,000,000,000 is made available until the 
     end of fiscal year 2020; of the fiscal year 2018 funding, 
     $1,500,000,000 is available until the end of fiscal year 
     2021.
       Extended availability of funding.--The conferees are aware 
     the Department books obligations for non-VA care upon a 
     veteran receiving authorization to obtain medical care 
     outside of the Veterans Health Administration and not upon 
     that authorization actually being filled and the Department 
     billed by the outside provider. Due to the timing of 
     reconciliation between obligations, authorizations, and the 
     number of those authorizations filled through private 
     providers, this accounting procedure has led to the de-
     obligation of funds past the life of the budget authority, 
     leading to the expiration of millions of dollars that could 
     have been applied to veterans healthcare programs. Therefore, 
     the conferees have provided flexibility to aid the Department 
     in ensuring all appropriations within this account are able 
     to be obligated before expiration. This extended availability 
     within the new Medical Community Care account should allow VA 
     time to correct this problem; however, the conferees also 
     note this longer period of availability is a temporary 
     solution and will not continue unaltered into the future. The 
     Department is expected to work towards identifying changes in 
     execution that will result in a permanent fix, including 
     discussing with the Office of Management and Budget how best 
     to define the point of obligation for these funds. The 
     conferees expect the Department to keep the Committees 
     apprised of its progress towards a permanent solution and 
     request this issue be addressed within the fiscal year 2019 
     advance appropriations request for this account.


                     medical support and compliance

       The conference agreement provides $6,654,480,000 in advance 
     for fiscal year 2018 for Medical Support and Compliance and 
     makes $100,000,000 of the advance funding available through 
     fiscal year 2019.
       Filling senior position vacancies.--In order for VHA to 
     improve access and increase efficiency within the system, it 
     must fill the critical senior management and clinical 
     vacancies. Therefore, the conferees direct that not less than 
     $21,000,000, as provided in the budget request, be used to 
     hire medical center directors and employees for other 
     management and clinical positions within the Veterans Health 
     Administration.
       Requirements for the hiring of VA healthcare providers.--
     The conferees are deeply troubled by recent reports 
     concerning practicing VA providers whose credentials have not 
     been verified or have been misrepresented, and who have 
     previously entered into settlements or completed disciplinary 
     actions in other States where they may hold a medical 
     license. To protect our Nation's veterans, the Department 
     must do more to guarantee that VA providers are of the 
     highest quality and are, at the very least, in good standing 
     with each State medical board with which they hold licenses. 
     The conferees believe VA should be in strict compliance with 
     Veterans Health Administration Handbook 1100.19 and Directive 
     2012-030 which require the Department to obtain any and all 
     information on

[[Page S6007]]

     medical license violations from each State medical board 
     where a provider holds or has ever held a license and whether 
     the provider has entered into any settlement agreements with 
     a board for disciplinary charges relating to medical 
     practice. The Department is directed to submit a report to 
     the Committees not later than 90 days after the beginning of 
     fiscal year 2017 providing an analysis and an assessment of 
     VA field compliance with Veterans Health Administration 
     Handbook 1100.19 and Directive 2012-030.
       Transmission of VA healthcare providers' information to 
     State medical boards.--Under current VA policy outlined in 
     Veterans Health Administration Handbook 1100.18, in each 
     instance in which a licensed healthcare professional whose 
     behavior or clinical practice so substantially fails to meet 
     generally-accepted standards of clinical practice as to raise 
     reasonable concern for the safety of patients, the Department 
     is required to provide a report to each State licensure board 
     (SLB) where the professional holds a license.
       The conferees are aware, however, that such reports sent to 
     SLBs are typically limited to a generic description of the 
     clinical shortcomings involved, and if the SLB wants more 
     details of the situation it must respond to the report with a 
     formal request for more information. The conferees note SLBs 
     and the Federation of State Medical Boards find it extremely 
     difficult to gain useful information even if they follow VA's 
     exact procedures.
       It is critical for VA to improve communication with SLBs 
     and improve transparency surrounding medical practice 
     violations. VA is urged to send promptly to each SLB where a 
     provider holds a license and the SLB in the State where the 
     provider practices, the full information concerning any 
     violations during the provider's practice at VA.
       While VA providers do not need to hold a license in the 
     same State where the medical facility resides, the conferees 
     believe such State's medical board should, nonetheless, have 
     access to information about a clinical violation committed at 
     a facility in their State to ensure the board can adequately 
     fulfill its obligation to uphold safe medical practice. The 
     Department is directed to submit a report to the Committees 
     not later than 90 days after the beginning of fiscal year 
     2017 providing an assessment of VA field compliance with 
     Veterans Health Administration Handbook 1100.18 and its 
     ability to provide full reporting to SLBs in instances where 
     licensed healthcare professionals' behavior or clinical 
     practice so substantially failed to meet generally-accepted 
     standards of clinical practice that it needed to be reported 
     in compliance with Handbook 1100.18.
       Non-VA care provider reviews.--As the Department continues 
     to increase the scope and size of its non-VA care programs, 
     it is imperative that VA develop policies that ensure that a 
     healthcare provider removed from employment with the Veterans 
     Health Administration due to substandard care, professional 
     misconduct, or violation of the requirements of his or her 
     medical license does not subsequently reemerge as a 
     contracted healthcare provider in the community care 
     programs, including the Choice Program. Therefore, the 
     conferees direct the Department to submit to the Committees 
     not later than the beginning of fiscal year 2017 the current 
     VHA policy on entering into contractual agreements with 
     private providers, either directly or through a third-party 
     administrator, and the provisions of that policy which detail 
     how VA ensures that no healthcare providers removed for 
     misconduct subsequently become providers through the VA's 
     community care programs. In addition, the Department is 
     directed to include, with the policy, what enforcement 
     mechanisms are currently in place as a safeguard and any 
     legislative authorities needed to ensure that veterans 
     receive the highest quality of care from healthcare providers 
     on contract to VA.


                           medical facilities

       The conference agreement provides $5,434,880,000 in advance 
     for fiscal year 2018 for Medical Facilities, as well as 
     $247,668,000 in fiscal year 2017 funding, which is in 
     addition to the advance funding provided last year. Of the 
     advance funding, $250,000,000 is made available through 
     fiscal year 2019.
       Medical facility inspections for food service and 
     environmental quality.--The conferees are disturbed by 
     reports of sanitation and insect infestation problems at food 
     service areas and kitchens at VA healthcare facilities, 
     despite existing internal requirements for periodic 
     inspections. In addition, health-threatening mold has been 
     found in some VA facilities, as documented by the VA 
     Inspector General. The conference agreement includes bill 
     language in sections 251 and 252 requiring VA to contract 
     with the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital 
     Organizations to conduct annual inspections of healthcare 
     facility food service areas, with remediation and re-
     inspection required. Section 252 includes the requirement for 
     the Joint Commission to conduct similar periodic reviews to 
     inspect mold issues in VA medical facilities.
       Improved community-based outpatient clinics (CBOC) 
     capabilities.--The conferees are concerned that VA needs to 
     improve its planning and contracting practices to allow for 
     future expansion needs of CBOCs. In the case of the recently 
     approved Rochester, New York CBOC (Phase I), the conferees 
     have been informed that options to expand for potential 
     future growth could not be included in the original lease 
     contract, warranting procurement of a second facility. The 
     conferees urge the Department to consider economic benefits 
     when considering locations. Furthermore, the Department is 
     directed to provide a report to the Committees not later than 
     the beginning of fiscal year 2017 addressing the rationale as 
     to why such flexibility cannot be included in lease contracts 
     and identify any barriers, including necessary statutory 
     changes, to ensure such options for flexibility are included 
     in future lease contracts.
       Green energy management program.--Given congressional 
     concern with some prior wind energy projects, the conferees 
     believe that the Committees need a clearer budget 
     presentation of all green energy projects--wind, solar, 
     geothermal, etc.--proposed to be funded in the fiscal year 
     2018 budget. Because green energy management funding was used 
     to backfill shortfalls in the Denver hospital construction 
     project, the Committees have difficulty discerning the 
     strategic funding plans that remain for VA green energy 
     management.
       Budget presentation.--The conferees have found the current 
     budget presentation for Medical Facilities distressingly 
     difficult to interpret. The conferees direct VA in the fiscal 
     year 2018 budget submission and in future years to include a 
     list of the projects that are funded in the request, with the 
     project's Strategic Capital Investment Priorities score 
     identified. Recognizing that the list of funded projects may 
     change during the course of the year, VA is directed to 
     provide quarterly updates to the Committees that identify any 
     changes to the list provided in the budget.


                    medical and prosthetic research

       The conference agreement provides $675,366,000 for Medical 
     and Prosthetic Research, available until September 30, 2018. 
     Bill language is included to ensure that the Secretary 
     allocates adequate funding for research on gender-appropriate 
     prosthetics and toxic exposures.
       Gulf War symptoms study.--The conferees are aware that on 
     March 23, 2015, VA contracted with the Institute of Medicine 
     to fulfill the mandated Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans 
     report as required by Public Law 110-389 and that VA is now 
     in receipt of the report. The conferees direct the Department 
     to review the report in an expeditious manner and transmit it 
     to the appropriate congressional committees of jurisdiction 
     not later than 60 days after the beginning of fiscal year 
     2017.
       New research areas.--As indicated in the House report, the 
     conferees encourage VA to create a Center of Innovation for 
     research support and use as candidates for initial research 
     hyperbaric oxygen therapy and magnetic EEG/EKG-guided 
     resonance therapy.
       Study on toxic exposures.--The conferees are aware the 
     Department is finalizing a contract with the National 
     Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to 
     assess the current research available on possible 
     generational health effects that may be the result of toxic 
     exposures experienced by veterans. The conferees are aware 
     NASEM will also assess areas requiring further scientific 
     study on the descendants of veterans with toxic exposures. In 
     addition, NASEM will further assess the scope and methodology 
     required to conduct research on such descendants to identify 
     current or possible health effects in the veterans' 
     descendants. The study will be similar to what is directed 
     in the Senate report. The Committees have been provided a 
     detailed list of the scope of the study and are aware the 
     contract is to be awarded in fiscal year 2017. The 
     conferees intend to monitor the award of this contract 
     closely and expect the Department to finalize the award, 
     as summarized above and presented to the Committees.

                    National Cemetery Administration

       The conference agreement provides $286,193,000 for the 
     National Cemetery Administration (NCA). Of the amount 
     provided, not to exceed 10 percent is available until 
     September 30, 2018.
       Rural veterans burial initiative.--The Department is 
     directed to submit to the Committees not later than the 
     beginning of fiscal year 2017 a report detailing the progress 
     to date of the Rural Veterans Burial Initiative and the 
     expected timeline for completion of such initiative.

                      Departmental Administration


                         GENERAL ADMINISTRATION

                     (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)

       The conference agreement provides $345,391,000 for General 
     Administration. Of the amount provided, not to exceed 5 
     percent is available for obligation until September 30, 2018. 
     The agreement continues to include bill language in section 
     233 permitting the transfer of funds from this account to 
     General Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration.
       The conference agreement provides $10,545,000 for the 
     Office of the Secretary. The recommendation fully supports 
     and provides the requested amounts in fiscal year 2017 for 
     the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the 
     Center for Minority Veterans, the Center for Women Veterans, 
     and the Office of Survivors Assistance. The Office of 
     Government Relations is funded at $9,146,000, to include not 
     more than $5,900,000 for functions previously conducted by 
     the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.
       Within the amounts made available for General 
     Administration, not less than an additional $1,500,000 shall 
     be specifically reserved for the hiring of Veterans 
     Integrated

[[Page S6008]]

     Service Network (VISN) directors; these amounts shall 
     supplement and not supplant amounts included in the budget 
     request for the hiring of VISN directors. Savings below the 
     requested level for the Office of Congressional and 
     Legislative Affairs function and the immediate Office of the 
     Secretary have been repurposed for this initiative, 
     consistent with direction in the Senate report.
       Improving the veterans' experience at VA.--The conferees 
     note the Secretary is undertaking a major effort to better 
     understand the myriad of ways veterans and eligible 
     dependents interact with VA and then to measurably improve 
     the veterans experience at the point of service delivery. The 
     current customer experience when interacting with the 
     Department is disjointed, inconsistent, and all too often 
     frustrating for the veteran. For example, the VA has over 500 
     veteran-facing websites and almost a thousand 1-800 numbers 
     for veterans to contact VA. To make matters worse, there is 
     no consistent, VA-wide performance standard for the many call 
     centers VA operates. In addition, the current process for 
     training and integrating staff at VA is sorely lacking and 
     not on par with commercial equivalents, particularly when it 
     comes to front-line staff who directly interface with 
     veterans. Also, many of VA's business processes (for example, 
     compensation and pension exams) are built to be internal-
     facing instead of built to put the veteran at the center of 
     the process. The sum of all these limitations has a direct 
     impact on veterans. For example, only 47 percent of veterans 
     surveyed marked ``strongly agree or agree'' with this 
     statement: ``I trust VA to fulfill our country's commitment 
     to veterans.'' The conferees believe VA can and should 
     redesign, measure, and improve the way VA provides services 
     to veterans nationwide, and note with interest the recent 
     efforts by the Secretary to do that. The conferees are 
     interested in the metrics and data the Department has 
     promised it can provide that will show an increase in veteran 
     satisfaction resulting from the efforts the Secretary's 
     office has put into place over the past year intending to 
     improve the veteran experience. The Department is directed to 
     report quarterly to the Committees metrics and data that show 
     improvement in customer satisfaction, the veterans 
     experience, and employee training. The conferees did not 
     provide a direct appropriation for this effort in fiscal year 
     2017; however, the Department is able and expected to 
     continue improving the veterans experience.
       Financial management system.--The conference agreement 
     includes $8,000,000 in this account as well as $44,300,000 in 
     the Information Technology Systems account for development of 
     a new financial management system. The Department has 
     dithered for years in replacing its antiquated legacy system 
     and suffered the consequences of a near meltdown in the 
     hospital system in 2015 when obligations could not be 
     correctly reported. The conferees urge VA to make a decision 
     in fiscal year 2016 to replace its inadequate system with a 
     21st century product so that the Committees can rely on 
     financial information from VA and VA can manage its 
     obligations.
       VA Patient Protection Act of 2016.--The conferees remain 
     concerned about reports of retaliation against whistleblowers 
     within the Department across the Nation. VA has promised to 
     foster a culture of openness by encouraging employees to 
     report cases of wrongdoing, yet there continue to be reports 
     that after bringing to light cases of wrongdoing, the 
     whistleblowers become subjects of retaliation. The conferees 
     note VA must create an environment that allows employees to 
     openly and safely advocate on behalf of veterans, consistent 
     with direction in the Senate report. The conference agreement 
     includes bill language in section 247 that comprehensively 
     addresses the creation of a formal process for whistleblowers 
     to file disclosures when operations within the Department 
     fail to meet the high standards of care and service veterans 
     deserve. Section 247 establishes a Central Whistleblower 
     Office designed as an independent investigatory body to 
     process VA employee complaints, which will ensure 
     whistleblower disclosures receive the prompt, impartial 
     attention deserved. Section 247 defines what actions 
     constitute prohibited retaliation against whistleblowers, 
     sets forth a process under which supervisors will be punished 
     for handling disclosures inappropriately, and requires VA 
     supervisors to be evaluated on their handling of 
     whistleblower complaints. Further, section 247 requires the 
     Department to report annually to the Committees on the number 
     of whistleblower complaints received and their outcomes and 
     to provide the results of Office of Special Counsel 
     investigations related to whistleblower complaints.
       Quarterly reporting.--In section 218 of the conference 
     agreement, the conferees continue to direct VA to provide on 
     a quarterly basis, not later than 30 days after the end of 
     each quarter, a quarterly financial status report that 
     includes, at a minimum, the information identified in this 
     paragraph. Such information shall include:
       1. VHA obligations and collections for the four Medical 
     Care accounts, Nonrecurring Maintenance (as a non-add), 
     Medical Research, the VA-DOD Facility Demonstration Fund, and 
     Medical Care Collections Fund (MCCF) collections--actual to 
     date versus plan;
       2. Updated `VA Medical Care Obligations by Program' chart 
     displayed in the fiscal year 2017 budget justification;
       3. Choice Act obligations for sections 801 and 802--actual 
     to date versus plan;
       4. Hepatitis C obligations, amounts funded through 
     appropriations versus Choice Act, both sources actual to date 
     versus plan;
       5. Cumulative tracking of all transfers made under any 
     authority, including each transfer within the Medical Care 
     appropriations accounts;
       6. General Administration obligations--personal services 
     versus all other--actual to date versus plan;
       7. Board of Veterans Appeals obligations--personal services 
     versus all other--actual to date versus plan;
       8. VBA, GOE obligations--personal services versus all 
     other--actual to date versus plan;
       9. Compensation and Pensions, Readjustment Benefits, and 
     Veterans Insurance and Indemnities--obligations year-to-date 
     versus plan;
       10. NCA obligations--personal services versus all other--
     actual to date versus plan;
       11. Information Technology Systems obligations--personal 
     services versus all other--actual to date versus plan;
       12. Major and Minor Construction obligations--actual to 
     date versus plan;
       13. Obligations to date for each Major Construction 
     project, broken into design versus construction; and
       14. Status of VA full-time equivalent employment--by 
     Administration/IT and revolving funds--by quarter, actual 
     versus plan.


                       BOARD OF VETERANS APPEALS

       The conference agreement provides $156,096,000 for the 
     Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), of which not to exceed 10 
     percent shall remain available until September 30, 2018. Bill 
     language is included in section 233 permitting VA to transfer 
     funding between this account and the General Operating 
     Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration account if needed 
     to align funding with the appropriate account to hire staff 
     to address the appeals backlog.
       The conference agreement provides the full budget request 
     in recognition of the growing backlog in resolving appeals. 
     However, the conferees are skeptical that, without the 
     necessary legislative changes proposed by the Administration, 
     VA will be able to make a significant dent in the backlog. As 
     one step, the conferees urge the Board to hire additional BVA 
     board members.
       Legal assistance.--The conferees request the Board to 
     provide a report not later than 90 days after the beginning 
     of fiscal year 2017 about the possible need for legal 
     assistance by veterans who are appealing their ruling from 
     the Veterans Benefits Administration. The report should 
     include information about: (1) the percentage of appellants 
     who receive free legal counsel from veterans service 
     organizations or others versus those who represent themselves 
     or have paid legal counsel; (2) the Board's estimate of unmet 
     legal need among appellants; (3) possible mechanisms to 
     provide free legal assistance to veterans who do not have and 
     are unable to afford legal assistance; and (4) the legal 
     assistance program provided through the U.S. Court of Appeals 
     for Veterans Claims and whether such a program would be 
     appropriate for the Board, including a description of 
     program structure and cost.


                     INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEMS

                     (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)

       The conference agreement provides $4,278,259,000 for 
     Information Technology (IT) Systems. The agreement identifies 
     separately in bill language the funding available for pay 
     ($1,272,548,000); operations and maintenance 
     ($2,534,442,000); and systems development, modernization, and 
     enhancement ($471,269,000). The agreement makes $37,100,000 
     of pay funding available until the end of fiscal year 2018; 
     $180,200,000 of operations and maintenance funding available 
     until the end of fiscal year 2018; and all IT systems 
     development, modernization and enhancement funding available 
     until the end of fiscal year 2018.
       The conference agreement includes $259,874,000 for VistA 
     Evolution, the modernization of the interoperable electronic 
     health record (EHR) or any successor program; $143,000,000 in 
     information technology funding for the Veterans Benefits 
     Management System which processes disability claims; 
     $19,100,000 for the claims appeals modernization effort; 
     $20,000,000 for Section 508 compliance efforts; $44,300,000 
     for development of a new VA financial management system; and 
     $370,067,000 for the VA information security program, 
     including $125,000,000 for the Cybersecurity Strategy 
     Implementation program.
       As with the fiscal year 2013-2016 appropriations Acts, the 
     fiscal year 2017 agreement includes a prohibition on 
     obligation or expenditure of more than 25 percent of fiscal 
     year 2017 funds provided for development, modernization, and 
     enhancement of the VistA Evolution EHR or a successor program 
     until the Department meets reporting and accountability 
     requirements contained in the conference bill language.
       The conference agreement includes language prohibiting the 
     obligation of IT development, modernization, and enhancement 
     funding until VA submits a certification of the amounts to be 
     obligated, in part or in full, for each development project.
       The conference agreement includes language permitting 
     funding to be transferred among the three IT subaccounts, 
     subject to approval from the Committees.
       The conference agreement includes language providing that 
     funding may be transferred among development projects or to 
     new

[[Page S6009]]

     projects subject to the Committees' approval.
       The conference agreement provides funding for IT 
     development, modernization, and enhancement for the projects 
     and in the amounts specified in the following table:

               INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
                        (in thousands of dollars)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       Project                             Conference
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Electronic Health Record Interoperability/VLER Health             17,322
VistA Evolution or successor EHR program.............             63,339
Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS)...........             85,288
Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER)............             17,857
Veteran Customer Experience..........................             73,624
VHA Research IT Support Development..................             15,066
Other IT Systems Development.........................            198,773
                                                      ------------------
    Total, All Development...........................           $471,269
------------------------------------------------------------------------

       This table is intended to serve as the Department's 
     approved list of development projects; any requested changes 
     are subject to reprogramming requirements.
       Appointment scheduling.--For more than a decade, VA has 
     spent millions in an attempt to replace its antiquated 
     scheduling system. VA has begun to fix some of the worst 
     problems in the system with its rollout of VistA Scheduling 
     Enhancement (VSE). But further efforts to modernize 
     scheduling have been put on hold until VA makes a decision 
     about what direction to take with modernizing the electronic 
     health record. The conferees understand the need to align the 
     two systems, but are distressed about the further delays in 
     the implementation of both. The conferees expect that VA will 
     finalize its strategic approach for both the electronic 
     health record and scheduling before the end of fiscal year 
     2016.
       Expenditure plan.--The conference agreement directs the 
     Department to continue to provide an IT expenditure plan to 
     the Committees not later than the start of fiscal year 2017, 
     as indicated in both the House and Senate reports. This plan 
     should be in the same format as the table above.
       Periodic briefings.--The conferees continue to require VA 
     to provide quarterly briefings to the Committees regarding 
     schedule, milestones, and obligations for VistA Evolution or 
     any successor program. The conferees also require quarterly 
     briefings from the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office on the 
     EHR interoperability project.
       Data matching with the Department of Education.--The 
     conferees urge VA to establish a matching program with the 
     Department of Education to identify veterans who are 
     unemployable due to a service-connected disability. Under 
     current law, veterans who have been determined by VA to be 
     unemployable due to a service-connected disability are also 
     eligible for student loan forgiveness. However, given the 
     complexity of the loan discharge process and the seeming lack 
     of communication between the Departments of Veterans Affairs 
     and Education, disabled veterans would stand to benefit from 
     greater coordination between the two Departments.


                      OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

       The conference agreement provides $160,106,000 for the 
     Office of Inspector General (OIG). Of the amount provided, 
     not to exceed 10 percent is available for obligation until 
     September 30, 2018. The conference agreement directs that the 
     OIG should post publicly any report or audit not later than 3 
     days after it is submitted to the Secretary in final form.


                      CONSTRUCTION, MAJOR PROJECTS

       The conference agreement provides $528,110,000 for 
     Construction, Major Projects, which is the same as the budget 
     request. The agreement makes this funding available for five 
     years, except that $50,000,000 is made available until 
     expended.
       Outside project management.--To ensure the Department will 
     never again mishandle public funds on a construction project 
     in the manner and to the degree the Denver VA Medical Center 
     in Aurora, CO, was mismanaged, the conference agreement 
     directs that $222,620,000 for Veterans Health Administration 
     major construction projects shall not be available until the 
     Department enters into an agreement with a non-Department of 
     Veterans Affairs Federal entity to serve as the design and/or 
     construction agent for each major construction project with a 
     total estimated cost of $100,000,000 or above. The conference 
     agreement makes the funding available for obligation for each 
     project only after VA certifies that the agreement with the 
     non-Department Federal entity is in effect for that project. 
     The two VHA projects affected by the fencing provision are in 
     Reno, Nevada, and Long Beach, California. The requirement to 
     contract with an outside agent for major construction 
     projects was also mandated in Section 502 of the Department 
     of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2015 (Public 
     Law 114-58), enacted on September 30, 2015. The law 
     contemplates that the non-Department Federal entity will 
     provide management over all or part of the project design, 
     acquisition, construction, and appropriate contract changes, 
     and the Department will reimburse the entity for all 
     appropriate costs associated with the provision of such 
     services.
       The conference agreement funds the following items as 
     requested in the budget submission:

                      CONSTRUCTION, MAJOR PROJECTS
                        (in thousands of dollars)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                           Conference
               Location and description                    Agreement
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Veterans Health Admin. (VHA):
    Long Beach, CA, seismic corrections for mental               $30,200
     health and community living center..............
    Reno, NV, upgrade seismic, life safety,                      192,420
     utilities, and expand clinical services.........
Advance Planning and Design Fund--various locations..             65,000
Major Construction staff--various locations..........             24,000
Claims Analysis--various locations...................              5,000
Hazardous Waste--various locations...................             10,000
Judgment Fund--various locations.....................              9,000
Non-Dept. Fed. Entity Project Management Support.....             49,490
                                                      ------------------
    Total VHA........................................            385,110
National Cemetery Admin. (NCA):
    Elmira, NY--new national cemetery--Western NY....             36,000
    Las Animas, CO--new national cemetery--Southern               36,000
     CO..............................................
    Jacksonville, FL--gravesite expansion............             24,000
    South Florida, FL --gravesite expansion..........             31,000
    Advance Planning and Design Fund--various                     10,000
     locations.......................................
                                                      ------------------
        Total NCA....................................            137,000
General Admin.:
    Staff Offices Advance Planning Fund..............              6,000
                                                      ------------------
        Major Construction total.....................           $528,110
------------------------------------------------------------------------

       Major construction budget justification documents.--The 
     conferees reiterate their concerns regarding the budget 
     justifications submitted for projects funded in this account. 
     The congressional budget justification materials that 
     accompany the President's Budget require a greater level of 
     detail to enhance oversight of the Department's major 
     construction projects. Therefore, the conference agreement 
     includes a new administrative provision section 258, 
     requiring the Department to submit enhanced budget 
     justification documents for projects for which funds are 
     requested. Pursuant to section 258, such justifications shall 
     include, at a minimum, the following elements for all major 
     construction projects:
       1. Project description, to include phases (if applicable) 
     delineated by fiscal year, funding for each phase by fiscal 
     year, and a detailed description of what that funding 
     procures;
       2. Project justification and analysis of benefits;
       3. A comparison of budget authority with the prior year's 
     President's Budget for budget authority already received and 
     needed in future years;
       4. A justification of any cost, schedule, or design change 
     from prior years;
       5. Total estimated cost with a detailed breakout by design, 
     construction (differentiated by primary and support 
     facilities), and operating costs;
       6. A complete project schedule to include dates indicating 
     design start, 35 percent design completion, award of 
     construction documents, design completion, award of 
     construction contract, and estimated construction completion;
       7. Design contract type;
       8. An analysis of alternatives with associated costs;
       9. Demographic data; and
       10. Workload data.
       The Department is directed to submit this information in a 
     format resembling the Department of Defense form 1391 (DD 
     1391). In addition, language is included requiring the 
     Department to submit a proposed budget justification template 
     that complies with this requirement to the Committees within 
     45 days of enactment of this Act.
       Alternative sources of construction funding.--The conferees 
     are aware of the budget challenges with new facility 
     construction at VA. The conferees are pleased that VA has 
     begun to work with the private sector in developing public- 
     private partnerships (P3). P3 projects take advantage of 
     readily available private sector investment capital, 
     expertise, and entrepreneurial discipline. Where private 
     sector financing has already been identified, and where 
     practical, the conferees urge VA to use a P3 model on future 
     VA construction projects.


                      CONSTRUCTION, MINOR PROJECTS

       The conference agreement provides $372,069,000 for 
     Construction, Minor Projects. The agreement makes this 
     funding available for five years. Included within the total 
     is $285,000,000 for the Veterans Health Administration; 
     $56,890,000 for the National Cemetery Administration; 
     $20,000,000 for the Veterans Benefits Administration; and 
     $10,179,000 for General Administration--Staff Offices.
       Expenditure Plan.--The conference agreement includes a 
     directive for the Department to provide an expenditure plan 
     not later than 30 days after the beginning of the fiscal 
     year, as provided in the Senate report. This expenditure plan 
     shall include a complete list of minor construction projects 
     to be supported with the fiscal year 2017 appropriation. The 
     plan shall be updated six months and twelve months after 
     enactment.


       GRANTS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF STATE EXTENDED CARE FACILITIES

       The conference agreement provides $90,000,000 for Grants 
     for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities, to remain 
     available until expended.


             GRANTS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF VETERANS CEMETERIES

       The conference agreement provides $45,000,000 for Grants 
     for Construction of Veterans Cemeteries, to remain available 
     until expended.

                       ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS


             (Including Transfers and Rescissions of Funds)

       The conference agreement includes section 201 allowing for 
     transfer of funds among the three mandatory accounts.
       The conference agreement includes section 202 allowing for 
     the transfer of funds among the four medical accounts.
       The conference agreement includes section 203 allowing 
     salaries and expenses funds to be used for related authorized 
     purposes.

[[Page S6010]]

       The conference agreement includes section 204 restricting 
     the accounts that may be used for the acquisition of land or 
     the construction of any new hospital or home.
       The conference agreement includes section 205 limiting the 
     use of funds in the Medical Services account only for 
     entitled beneficiaries unless reimbursement is made to the 
     Department.
       The conference agreement includes section 206 allowing for 
     the use of certain mandatory appropriations accounts for 
     payment of prior year accrued obligations for those accounts.
       The conference agreement includes section 207 allowing the 
     use of appropriations available in this title to pay prior 
     year obligations.
       The conference agreement includes section 208 allowing the 
     Department to use surplus earnings from the National Service 
     Life Insurance Fund, the Veterans' Special Life Insurance 
     Fund, and the United States Government Life Insurance Fund to 
     administer these programs.
       The conference agreement includes section 209 allowing the 
     Department to cover the administrative expenses of enhanced-
     use leases and provides authority to obligate these 
     reimbursements in the year in which the proceeds are 
     received.
       The conference agreement includes section 210 limiting the 
     amount of reimbursement the Office of Resolution Management 
     and the Office of Employment Discrimination Complaint 
     Adjudication can charge other offices of the Department for 
     services provided.
       The conference agreement includes section 211 requiring the 
     Department to collect third-party payer information for 
     persons treated for a non-service-connected disability.
       The conference agreement includes section 212 allowing for 
     the use of enhanced-use leasing revenues for Construction, 
     Major Projects and Construction, Minor Projects.
       The conference agreement includes section 213 outlining 
     authorized uses for Medical Services funds.
       The conference agreement includes section 214 allowing for 
     funds deposited into the Medical Care Collections Fund to be 
     transferred to the Medical Services and Medical Community 
     Care accounts.
       The conference agreement includes section 215 which allows 
     Alaskan veterans to use medical facilities of the Indian 
     Health Service or tribal organizations.
       The conference agreement includes section 216 permitting 
     the transfer of funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs 
     Capital Asset Fund to the Construction, Major Projects and 
     Construction, Minor Projects accounts and makes those funds 
     available until expended.
       The conference agreement includes section 217 rescinding 
     $7,246,181,000 of fiscal year 2017 Medical Services funds 
     that were provided in advance. This funding is now provided 
     through the Medical Community Care account.
       The conference agreement includes section 218 requiring the 
     Secretary to submit financial status quarterly reports for 
     each of the Administrations in the Department. The specific 
     data requested is similar to that requested in the fiscal 
     year 2016 conference report.
       The conference agreement includes section 219 requiring the 
     Department to notify and receive approval from the Committees 
     of any proposed transfer of funding to or from the 
     Information Technology Systems account and limits the 
     aggregate annual increase in the account to no more than 10 
     percent of the funding appropriated to the account in this 
     Act.
       The conference agreement includes section 220 prohibiting 
     any funds from being used in a manner that is inconsistent 
     with statutory limitations on outsourcing.
       The conference agreement includes section 221 providing up 
     to $274,731,000 of fiscal year 2017 funds for transfer to the 
     Joint DOD-VA Medical Facility Demonstration Fund.
       The conference agreement includes section 222 which permits 
     up to $280,802,000 of fiscal year 2018 medical care funding 
     provided in advance to be transferred to the Joint DOD-VA 
     Medical Facility Demonstration Fund.
       The conference agreement includes section 223 which 
     authorizes transfers from the Medical Care Collections Fund 
     to the Joint DOD-VA Medical Facility Demonstration Fund.
       The conference agreement includes section 224 which 
     transfers at least $15,000,000 from VA medical accounts to 
     the DOD-VA Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund.
       The conference agreement includes section 225 prohibiting 
     funds available to the Department in this or any other Act 
     from being used to replace the current system by which VISNs 
     select and contract for diabetes monitoring supplies and 
     equipment.
       The conference agreement includes section 226 requiring 
     that the Department notify the Committees of bid savings in a 
     major construction project of at least $5,000,000, or 5 
     percent, whichever is less, 14 days prior to the obligation 
     of the bid savings and their anticipated use.
       The conference agreement includes section 227 which 
     prohibits VA from increasing the scope of work for a major 
     construction project above the scope specified in the 
     original budget request unless the Secretary receives 
     approval from the Committees.
       The conference agreement includes section 228 requiring a 
     quarterly report from each VBA regional office on pending 
     disability claims, both initial and supplemental; error 
     rates; the number of claims processing personnel; corrective 
     actions taken; training programs; and review team audit 
     results.
       The conference agreement includes section 229 limiting the 
     funding from the Medical Services and Medical Support and 
     Compliance accounts for the electronic health record and 
     electronic health record interoperability projects.
       The conference agreement includes section 230 requiring VA 
     to notify the Committees 15 days prior to any staff office 
     relocations within VA of 25 or more FTE.
       The conference agreement includes section 231 requiring the 
     Secretary to report to the Committees each quarter about any 
     single national outreach and awareness marketing campaign 
     exceeding $2,000,000.
       The conference agreement includes section 232 permitting 
     the transfer to the Medical Services account of fiscal year 
     discretionary 2017 funds appropriated in this Act or 
     available from advance fiscal year 2017 funds already 
     appropriated, except for funds appropriated to General 
     Operating Expenses, VBA, to address possible unmet, high 
     priority needs in Medical Services. Such unanticipated 
     demands may result from circumstances such as a greater than 
     projected number of enrollees or higher intensity of use of 
     benefits. Any such transfer requires the approval of the 
     Committees.
       The conference agreement includes section 233 permitting 
     the transfer of funding between the General Operating 
     Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration account and the 
     Board of Veterans Appeals account if necessary to permit the 
     hiring of staffing at the appropriate stage of the appeals 
     process to address mounting claims appeals workload. Any such 
     transfer requires the approval of the Committees.
       The conference agreement includes section 234 prohibiting 
     the Secretary from reprogramming funds in excess of 
     $5,000,000 among major construction projects or programs 
     unless the reprogramming is approved by the Committees.
       The conference agreement includes section 235 rescinding 
     $40,000,000 in unobligated balances in the DOD-VA Health Care 
     Sharing Incentive Fund.
       The conference agreement includes sections 236 and 237 
     making general rescissions of $169,000,000 in fiscal year 
     2017 advance appropriations and reductions of $23,000,000 in 
     fiscal year 2017 current funded appropriations.
       The conference agreement includes section 238 mandating 
     certain professional standards for the veterans crisis 
     hotline.
       The conference agreement includes section 239 pertaining to 
     certification of marriage and family therapists.
       The conference agreement includes section 240 restricting 
     funds from being used to close certain medical facilities in 
     the absence of a national realignment strategy.
       The conference agreement includes section 241 which 
     prohibits funds from being used to transfer funding from the 
     Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund to any other VA 
     account.
       The conference agreement includes section 242 which 
     provides an extension through fiscal year 2017 of the Access 
     Received Closer to Home (ARCH) program.
       The conference agreement includes section 243 which ends a 
     co-payment requirement for opioid antagonists and supports 
     education on the use of opioid antagonists.
       The conference agreement includes section 244 requiring the 
     VA Inspector General to make public all work products.
       The conference agreement includes section 245 permitting 
     funding to be used in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 to carry out 
     and expand the child care pilot program authorized by section 
     205 of Public Law 111-163.
       The conference agreement includes section 246 making 
     mandatory the reporting to State prescription drug monitoring 
     programs.
       The conference agreement includes section 247 which 
     includes the text of the VA Patient Protection Act of 2016 
     addressing protections for VA whistleblowers.
       The conference agreement includes section 248 identifying 
     information which may be used to verify the status of 
     coastwise merchant seamen who served during World War II for 
     the purposes of eligibility for medals, ribbons, or other 
     military decorations.
       The conference agreement includes section 249 providing 
     monthly assistance allowances for disabled veterans competing 
     on United States Olympic teams.
       The conference agreement includes section 250 which 
     provides coverage under the VA beneficiary travel program for 
     certain types of special disabilities rehabilitation.
       The conference agreement includes section 251 which 
     requires VA to conduct annual inspections of kitchens and 
     food service areas of each medical facility, through the 
     Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations, 
     with required remediation if necessary.
       The conference agreement includes section 252 which 
     requires VA to conduct periodic inspections of mold issues at 
     VA medical facilities through the Joint Commission on 
     Accreditation of Hospital Organizations, along with required 
     remediation if necessary.
       The conference agreement includes section 253 reinstating 
     the requirement for a report on the capacity of VA to provide 
     for specialized treatment and rehabilitative needs of 
     disabled veterans.
       The conference agreement includes section 254 permitting 
     the Secretary to use appropriated funds to ensure particular 
     ratios of veterans to full-time employment equivalents within 
     any VA program of rehabilitation.

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       The conference agreement includes section 255 indicating 
     that no funds available in the Act may be used to deny the 
     Inspector General timely access to Department records and 
     documents over which the Inspector General has 
     responsibilities under the Inspector General Act of 1978.
       The conference agreement includes section 256 forbidding 
     funds to be used to enter into a settlement that would 
     restrict an individual's freedom to speak to Members of 
     Congress or their staff.
       The conference agreement includes section 257 providing 
     authority for the Veterans Health Administration to 
     administer the National Veterans Sports Program.
       The conference agreement includes section 258 requiring 
     certain data to be included in budget justifications for 
     Major Construction projects.
       The conference agreement includes section 259 which 
     authorizes 8 VA major construction projects that were funded 
     in fiscal year 2016.
       The conference agreement includes section 260 allowing the 
     use of Medical Services funding for fertility treatment and 
     adoption reimbursement for veterans and their spouses if the 
     veteran has a service-connected disability that results in 
     being unable to procreate without such fertility treatment.
       The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall develop and publish 
     implementing guidance within 120 days of enactment of this 
     Act. The implementing guidance developed by the Secretary 
     shall not be materially different from, and in no way more 
     expansive than, the implementing guidance promulgated by the 
     Department of Defense in the April 3, 2012 memorandum from 
     the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) entitled 
     ``Policy for Assisted Reproductive Services for the Benefit 
     of Seriously or Severly Ill/Injured (Category II or III) 
     Active Duty Service Members''.

                      TITLE III--RELATED AGENCIES


                  AMERICAN BATTLE MONUMENTS COMMISSION

                         SALARIES AND EXPENSES

       The conference agreement includes $75,100,000 for Salaries 
     and Expenses of the American Battle Monuments Commission 
     (ABMC), as requested.
       The conferees appreciate and support the meaningful work of 
     the ABMC to preserve commemorative and historical sites and 
     to educate the public about the United States Armed Forces. 
     The conferees further recognize the critical role that 
     African Americans and other minorities played during World 
     War II. The conferees urge the ABMC to partner with 
     Department of Defense historians to ensure that these 
     servicemembers and support staff are properly recognized at 
     ABMC sites. Further, the conferees direct the ABMC to 
     appropriately incorporate the contributions of African 
     Americans and other minorities into ABMC's interpretive 
     exhibits and on the ABMC website.


                 FOREIGN CURRENCY FLUCTUATIONS ACCOUNT

       The conference agreement includes such sums as necessary 
     for the Foreign Currency Fluctuations Account. However, due 
     to favorable exchange rates, no funds are expected to be 
     required in fiscal year 2017.


           UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS

                         SALARIES AND EXPENSES

       The conference agreement includes $30,945,000 for Salaries 
     and Expenses for the United States Court of Appeals for 
     Veterans Claims, as requested.


                      DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE--CIVIL

                       CEMETERIAL EXPENSES, ARMY

                         SALARIES AND EXPENSES

       The conference agreement includes $70,800,000 for 
     Cemeterial Expenses, Army--Salaries and Expenses, as 
     requested. Within that amount, up to $15,000,000 in funding 
     is available until September 30, 2019.


                ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT HOME TRUST FUND

       The conference agreement includes a total of $64,300,000 
     for the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH), as requested, 
     but does not provide the funds in the manner requested. The 
     agreement does not include the indefinite transfer of an 
     estimated $22,000,000 in funds from the Department of Defense 
     (DOD), Operations and Maintenance, Defense-Wide Account, as 
     requested. Instead, the conference agreement directs that 
     $42,300,000 be derived from the Trust Fund and $22,000,000 be 
     provided from the General Fund to support AFRH operations.
       Trust Fund Solvency.--The conferees are disappointed the 
     Department of Defense did not include with the fiscal year 
     2017 budget request legislative proposals and administrative 
     actions that can be taken under current law in order to 
     achieve Trust Fund solvency in spite of clear direction to do 
     so in the Explanatory Statement accompanying Public Law 114-
     113, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016. Both 
     legislative and administrative actions are necessary to 
     improve Trust Fund solvency, eliminate AFRH's reliance on the 
     General Fund, and maintain the high-quality services provided 
     to AFRH residents. The conferees again direct DOD, working 
     with AFRH, to take appropriate administrative action and to 
     develop and submit proposed authorizing language with the 
     fiscal year 2018 budget request that addresses the issue of 
     Trust Fund solvency. In addition, AFRH is directed to 
     regularly report to the Committees on efforts to stabilize 
     the Trust Fund and to lease its property at the Washington, 
     D.C. facility.
       Study Findings and Proposals.--AFRH's budget request notes 
     that DOD has undertaken an in-depth study to develop mid-term 
     and long-term plans to improve Trust Fund solvency. The study 
     also includes an analysis of AFRH operations to include 
     benchmarking and to identify potential legislative changes to 
     revise AFRH's funding model. The Committees request further 
     information from DOD regarding the study, including a report 
     on its cost, scope of work, deliverables, and timeline, and 
     requests a briefing on the findings and resulting proposals. 
     The conferees are troubled that the study's statement of work 
     seems to be focused on cuts to core AFRH operations as a 
     means of achieving Trust Fund solvency. The conference 
     agreement directs that AFRH and the Department of Defense 
     submit by October 1, 2016, a proposal that ensures the long-
     term sustainability of the Trust Fund by replenishing the 
     Trust Fund's revenues, not by cutting core AFRH operations.

                       ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

       The conference agreement includes section 301 permitting 
     funds to be provided to Arlington County, Virginia, for the 
     relocation of a water main located on the Arlington National 
     Cemetery property.
       The conference agreement includes section 302 allowing 
     Arlington National Cemetery to deposit and use funds derived 
     from concessions.

               TITLE IV--OVERSEAS CONTINGENCY OPERATIONS


                         Department of Defense

       The conference agreement includes title IV, Overseas 
     Contingency Operations, for military construction projects 
     related to the Global War on Terrorism, the European 
     Reassurance Initiative and Counterterrorism Support that were 
     requested by the Administration in the Fiscal Year 2017 
     Overseas Contingency Operations budget request.


                      Military Construction, Army

       The conference agreement includes $18,900,000 for 
     ``Military Construction, Army'', as requested in the Fiscal 
     Year 2017 Overseas Contingency Operations budget request, for 
     planning and design in support of the European Reassurance 
     Initiative.


              Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps

       The conference agreement includes $59,809,000 for 
     ``Military Construction, Navy and Marine Corps'', as 
     requested in the Fiscal Year 2017 Overseas Contingency 
     Operations budget request, of which $21,400,000 is in support 
     of the European Reassurance Initiative and $38,409,000 is in 
     support of Overseas Contingency Operations.


                    Military Construction, Air Force

       The conference agreement includes $88,291,000 for 
     ``Military Construction, Air Force'', as requested in the 
     Fiscal Year 2017 Overseas Contingency Operations budget 
     request, of which $68,280,000 is in support of the European 
     Reassurance Initiative, $11,440,000 is in support of Overseas 
     Contingency Operations, and $8,571,000 is in support of 
     counterterrorism efforts.


                  Military Construction, Defense-Wide

       The conference agreement includes $5,000,000 for ``Military 
     Construction, Defense-Wide'', as requested in the Fiscal Year 
     2017 Overseas Contingency Operations budget request, for 
     unspecified minor military construction for the Joint Staff 
     in support of the European Reassurance Initiative.


                        Administrative Provision

       The conference agreement includes section 401 regarding 
     emergency designation for the Overseas Contingency Operations 
     accounts.

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                      TITLE V--GENERAL PROVISIONS

       The conference agreement includes section 501 prohibiting 
     the obligation of funds in this Act beyond the current fiscal 
     year unless expressly so provided.
       The conference agreement includes section 502 prohibiting 
     the use of the funds in this Act for programs, projects, or 
     activities not in compliance with Federal law relating to 
     risk assessment, the protection of private property rights, 
     or unfunded mandates.
       The conference agreement includes section 503 encouraging 
     all Departments to expand their use of ``E-Commerce.''
       The conference agreement includes section 504 specifying 
     the congressional committees that are to receive all reports 
     and notifications.
       The conference agreement includes section 505 prohibiting 
     the transfer of funds to any instrumentality of the United 
     States Government without authority from an appropriations 
     Act.
       The conference agreement includes section 506 prohibiting 
     the use of funds for a project or program named for a serving 
     Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner of the United 
     States House of Representatives.
       The conference agreement includes section 507 requiring all 
     reports submitted to Congress to be posted on official web 
     sites of the submitting agency.
       The conference agreement includes section 508 prohibiting 
     the use of funds to establish or maintain a computer network 
     unless such network blocks the viewing, downloading, and 
     exchanging of pornography, except for law enforcement 
     investigation, prosecution, or adjudication activities.
       The conference agreement includes section 509 prohibiting 
     the use of funds for the payment of first-class air travel by 
     an employee of the executive branch.
       The conference agreement includes section 510 prohibiting 
     the use of funds in this Act for any contract where the 
     contractor has not complied with E-Verify requirements.
       The conference agreement includes section 511 prohibiting 
     the use of funds in this Act by the Department of Defense or 
     the Department of Veterans Affairs for the purchase or lease 
     of a new vehicle except in accordance with Presidential 
     Memorandum--Federal Fleet Performance, dated May 24, 2011.
       The conference agreement includes section 512 prohibiting 
     the use of funds in this Act for the renovation, expansion, 
     or construction of any facility in the continental United 
     States for the purpose of housing any individual who has been 
     detained at the United States Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, 
     Cuba.

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       DIVISION B--ZIKA RESPONSE AND PREPAREDNESS APPROPRIATIONS

       The Act includes $1,108,094,000 in fiscal year 2016 
     appropriations for Zika response and preparedness. These 
     funds will provide the Department of Health and Human 
     Services and Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for 
     International Development, with additional resources to 
     combat the Zika virus.
       Within the funds provided for Centers for Disease Control 
     and Prevention (CDC), a robust level of funding is intended 
     to support mosquito control efforts conducted by State, 
     county, or municipal programs, including mosquito control 
     districts. CDC should consider the risk of active or local 
     transmission of the Zika virus when allocating such funds.
       The Secretary of Health and Human Services is encouraged to 
     update the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System to 
     account for specific coding requirements and adequate 
     reimbursement rates for Zika diagnostic tests recognized by 
     the Food and Drug Administration.
       Funds provided in the fifth proviso under the Public Health 
     and Social Services Emergency Fund shall be administered by 
     the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reimburse 
     for costs of health conditions related to the Zika virus.
       A table displaying additional detail for the funding in 
     division B follows:

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            DIVISION C--CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2017

       The Act includes the ``Continuing Appropriations Act, 
     2017'' as division C.
       Section 145 of division C includes an additional 
     $500,000,000 for fiscal year 2016 for the Community Planning 
     and Development, Community Development Fund, for activities 
     related to major disasters. The Secretary of Housing and 
     Urban Development shall publish on a public website 
     information accounting for how all grant funds are used, 
     including the award and expenditure of funds. The Secretary 
     shall update the information on the website on a monthly 
     basis through December 31, 2016, and on a quarterly basis 
     thereafter.

                    DIVISION D--RESCISSIONS OF FUNDS

       The Act includes $400,001,198 in budgetary savings for 
     fiscal year 2016, as follows:
       $10,000,000 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     ``Department of Commerce, Economic Development 
     Administration, Economic Development Assistance Programs'';
       $13,000,000 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     ``Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
     Administration, Operations, Research, and Facilities'';
       $279,045 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     ``Department of Homeland Security, Departmental Management 
     and Operations, Office of the Secretary and Executive 
     Management'';
       $39,246 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     ``Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border 
     Protection, Salaries and Expenses'';
       $48,075,920 is rescinded from ``Department of Homeland 
     Security, United States Coast Guard, Acquisition, 
     Construction, and Improvements'';
       $731,790 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     ``Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency 
     Management Agency, Administrative and Regional Operations'';
       $168,100,000 is rescinded from unobligated amounts 
     available under section 1323(c)(1) of the Patient Protection 
     and Affordable Care Act;
       $7,522,000 is rescinded from unobligated balances of Ebola 
     response and preparedness funds under ``Operating Expenses'' 
     of the U.S. Agency for International Development;
       $109,478,000 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     Ebola response and preparedness funds under ``Bilateral 
     Economic Assistance, Funds Appropriated to the President'';
       $5,375,197 is rescinded from unobligated balances of 
     ``Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation 
     Administration, Facilities and Equipment''; and
       $37,400,000 is rescinded from unobligated balances of the 
     Department of Transportation provided under section 108 of 
     Public Law 101-130.

                          ____________________