Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., said the current state of VA medical facilities is unacceptable.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., said the current state of VA medical facilities is unacceptable. House Television via AP

House Panel Approves Spending Surge to Fix and Upgrade VA Buildings

Funding would preempt a commission that will determine what VA's footprint should look like going forward.

A House committee on Monday evening passed a measure to spend $18 billion on fixing or replacing dated medical facilities and boosting staffing at the Veterans Affairs Department, a key piece of President Biden’s agenda for the agency. 

The House Veterans' Affairs Committee approved the spending as part of a budget resolution that Democrats ultimately plan to pass using a special procedure called reconciliation. Republicans on the panel voted against the proposal, saying the spending was either premature or unnecessary, and lawmakers should instead wait until an already established commission reports its findings on VA’s needs. 

The legislation would provide $15.2 billion for VA’s capital investment portfolio, boosting maintenance for dilapidated facilities around the country. In some cases, VA would build new medical centers from scratch. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., who chairs the committee, said current VA buildings are designed to serve veterans who fought in World War I and World War II. 

“That is unacceptable,” Takano said. 

The measure would provide nearly $2 billion for VA to lease new facilities, about half a billion dollars for VA to revamp underutilized spaces and $375 million to boost clinical staffing through an increase in residency positions. 

Republicans on the committee, who introduced a slew of unsuccessful amendments aiming to lower or redirect spending at VA, said Congress should instead await results from the already established Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission. Created by the 2018 VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, the panel will oversee a process similar to the base realignment and closure process at the Defense Department. There is no requirement, however, for the VA commission to recommend consolidations and Biden has blown past a deadline to pick people to serve on the commission. 

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., the committee’s ranking member, said VA has already spent three years collecting data to present to the commission. Bost added VA has received $40 billion through COVID-19 relief packages, some of which it has not yet spent. He called the new spending at VA unnecessary and “a distraction” from Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal. 

Rep. Jack Bergman, R-Mich., said it would be wasteful to spend money on fixing a facility that the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission may soon recommend for closure anyway, adding Democrats were taking a “ready, fire, aim” approach. 

Biden's VA officials have made clear they intend to take a growth-oriented approach with the asset commission, suggesting the $18 billion in infrastructure spending would merely be a "down payment" on the work needed to expand health care access to veterans. 

Early next year, VA Secretary Denis McDonough will submit recommendations on the “modernization and realignment” of department facilities to the commission made up of Biden’s nominees. The commission will then have a year to review that plan, conduct its own hearings and investigations, make its own proposals and send them to the White House. Biden can then reject the plan or sign off on it and send it to Congress. Similar to previous Base Realignment and Closure efforts at the Defense Department, Congress will have to accept all of the recommendations or none of them. Lawmakers must proactively vote down the proposals to void them, however, as inaction would allow them to take effect.

Through the reconciliation process, Democrats can pass the VA and other spending in the House and Senate without any Republican support. The Biden administration is also pushing to include $10 billion as part of the package that would go into a fund to pay for infrastructure upgrades to buildings across the rest of the federal government. The package is also slated to include funding to electrify the federal fleet and hire more staff at the Internal Revenue Service. Democratic leadership has set an overall spending level at $3.5 trillion for the bill, but some centrist members of its caucus are pushing for a lower figure.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.