On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations bill, which includes $125 million in Rooney-requested funds for traumatic brain injuries. Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, requested the increase in funding to combat mental health issues and fight growing suicide rates among the nation's veterans.
"One of our fundamental duties in Congress -- whether we are Republicans or Democrats -- is to "provide for the common defense,' but we also have a great responsibility to make sure our military men and women are receiving the care they need," Rooney said. "The reality is our servicemembers take great risks when they enlist to fight for our country. One of the biggest risks is TBIs, which can lead to severe mental health issues like depression and even suicide. These problems are serious and real and each dollar we spend towards research and treatment puts us one step closer to helping our military."
The bill also includes Rooney's Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act which guarantees families of fallen servicemembers can receive death gratuity during a government shutdown.
In addition, the 2019 legislation provides increased funding for F-35 aircraft, ensuring men and women in the military have the latest and greatest technology to defeat enemies.
Earlier this year, Rooney and Joint Strike Fighter Caucus Co-Chair John Larson (D-CT) led a letter requesting support for at least 90 aircraft in the FY2019 Appropriations bill. Though the president's FY19 budget request only asked for 77 aircraft, Congress has recognized this would be a step in the wrong direction and gives the appearance the Pentagon is stepping back from supporting the program.
This legislation moves ahead with the F-35 program, approving the Rooney/Larson request by providing $9.4 billion to the Pentagon for 93 F-35 aircrafts.
The bill will also increase the size of the military and provide a 2.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers.
"From healthcare to equipment and pay, we are making sure our military's needs are met," Rooney said. "I am confident the Defense Appropriations bill will fully equip our nation's military with all the tools they need to protect our country and keep it safe and I was proud to support it."