WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation at the request of the Administration which would authorize $1.9 billion for the construction and repair of various Department of Veterans Affairs' medical facilities across the country. Akaka has continued the tradition of previous Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairmen, introducing legislation requested by the Administration as a courtesy, so that such measures will be available for review and consideration.
Two of the main projects contained in the bill are polytrauma centers - a new one in San Antonio, Texas; and upgrades to the Palo Alto, California, facility. These facilities provide comprehensive care for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning wounded in combat. The legislation also increases the total authorization for the new VA hospital in Denver, Colorado.
"Many veterans' medical facilities across the nation are ailing. As is the tradition of this committee, I have introduced this bill at the request of the President for consideration." said Akaka. "I will continue to push for stronger improvements to VA's infrastructure, as well as for full funding of these projects, and look forward to considering this proposal."
The bill would also authorize $60 million in leases for community-based outpatient clinics in 11 states and territories.
The Administration's proposed fiscal year 2009 budget included $911 million for Major and Minor Construction, a cut of $788 million from last year's construction allocation. In the Democratic Majority's fiscal year 2009 Views and Estimates letter to the Budget Committee, Chairman Akaka and his colleagues on the Committee recommended $1.2 billion in new funding for Major and Minor Construction.
The Majority Committee Member's Views and Estimates letter can be viewed here.
Chairman Akaka's floor statement on the legislation is copied below:
Today I introduce legislation requested by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as a courtesy to the Secretary and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Except in unusual circumstances, it is my practice to introduce legislation requested by the Administration so that such measures will be available for review and consideration.
This "by request" bill would authorize $1.87 billion in construction projects in various areas of the country in Fiscal Year 2009. It also would authorize one new polytrauma center in San Antonio, Texas, and upgrades to the polytrauma center in Palo Alto, California.
The bill would also extend and increase the total authorizations for new VA Medical Centers in Denver, Colorado, and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Finally, this bill authorizes $60 million in leases for 12 outpatient clinics in various states and territories.
I am introducing this bill for the review and consideration of my colleagues at the request of the Administration. As Chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I have not taken a position on this legislation.