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Murray Directs the VA to Fix Decrepit Facilities in Supplemental Bill

Mar 22 2007

Senator's provision requires a report to Congress detailing plans and expenditures within 60 days

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) today responded to reports from the VA of dilapidated facilities across the country by directing the Department to provide a report to Congress detailing facility deficiencies and the agency's plan to correct them.

Murray inserted the provision into the Fiscal Year 2007 Supplemental Appropriations bill which passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee today. The VA's report would be due to Congress within 60 days of the President signing the Act into law.

"Yesterday - under intense public pressure - the VA owned up to run-down facilities across the country. The agency is in this situation because they have failed to be honest about their real needs and our veterans are paying the price," Murray said. "I am not about to allow the VA to fumble the fix as badly as they've fumbled their planning for the war."

Murray's language, which was added to the Supplemental bill in Title II - Katrina Recovery, Veterans Health, and for Other Emergencies, says:

The Committee directs the Department to provide a report detailing facility deficiencies and the correction plan which will be implemented to address them. This report should include an expenditure plan for the use of funds appropriated for fiscal year 2007 as well as the additional funding included in this Act. Furthermore, the committee directs the Department to report what identified facility deficiencies will not be addressed by this plan and the total cost of addressing those deficiencies. This report is due to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate no later than 60 days following enactment of this Act.

In addition to this language, Murray also helped to secure $1.77 billion for veterans care and $2.5 billion for Department of Defense Health Programs in the Supplemental. This funding specifically includes $20 million to repair facilities at Walter Reed and nearly $900 million for repairs at the VA.

"It's cheaper to provide this funding on the front end and prevent the problems to begin with, but that requires the VA to be upfront with Congress about their needs. That's why they will now need to tell Congress exactly how and where they are spending these additional funds," Murray said.