Warner, Kaine call on Senate Appropriators to fully fund infrastructure repairs at VA facilities
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) joined a group of Senators in a letter to Senate appropriators calling on them to commit to using the full $2 billion that was allocated in last month’s bipartisan budget agreement for its intended purpose of repairing and modernizing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) infrastructure.
While that Congressional framework established how much money should be provided to address veterans’ hospital maintenance and backlogged construction projects, leaders of Congressional appropriation committees are in charge of deciding how that funding is allocated. Facing a shortfall in funding for the Veterans Choice Program, which allows certain veterans to seek medical care outside of the VA system, the VA has proposed diverting dollars meant for infrastructure improvements to cover the program. Warner and Kaine believe that appropriators must fund both initiatives to hold up our nation’s bargain to veterans.
“It is important that Congress not enable VA to continue to cannibalize one aspect of its budget to pay for another,” wrote the Senators in a letter to Senate appropriators. “Our veterans deserve better than a VA that cannot invest in their future long term because they are constantly repurposing funding to address short sighted budget decisions. Increased funding for VA medical facilities will make significant progress in reducing the nationwide backlog in VA construction and infrastructure work that has impacted veterans’ access to critical medical and long-term care services. VA is the largest integrated health care system in the United States, yet many of its facilities are over 50 years old and are in desperate need of modernization. As VA facilities deteriorate, veterans are left without accessible care.”
Other Senators joining Sens. Warner and Kaine in signing the letter include Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Full text of the letter is available here.