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(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash), a key member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, today reacted with anger to the results of an internal audit of the condition of VA facilities across the country. The report was ordered by Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson in the wake of news coverage of squalid conditions and bureaucratic red tape at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.



"Conditions like this at our VA facilities are absolutely unconscionable. Who's been minding the store?" Murray asked. "The VA is in this situation because they have failed to be honest about their real needs and our veterans are paying the price."



While Murray expressed outrage at the expansive nature of the problem - well over one-thousand problems were cited in the VA's audit - the results were not surprising. In fact, in a floor speech on April 12, 2005, Murray pointed out numerous examples of inadequate VA facilities across the country.



In that 2005 speech Murray cited "bed frames held together with duct tape and wire" in South Dakota and broken equipment at Kentucky facilities. Murray raised the concerns while introducing an amendment to the 2005 War Supplemental that would have added $2 billion to the bill to care for our nation's veterans. The measure failed 54-46.

See Murray's 2005 warnings



"We have known about dilapidated facilities and budget shortfalls for years now. Unfortunately, the VA has never been honest about its true budget needs and has completely failed to plan for the care and well-being of our veterans," Murray said today.



"Even more concerning than the physical condition of these facilities is the lengthy waits and bureaucratic nightmares that face our veterans as they transition from the DoD to the VA. Congress must take immediate action to fix these problems in the Supplemental spending bill coming before us this week; it is time to acknowledge our veterans as a cost of war."