Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced H.R. 6220, a bill that would authorize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to move forward with 24 healthcare facility leases that are currently backlogged in Congress, including the proposed 47,200 square foot Oxnard Community Clinic.
“Here in Ventura County and all across the country, there are veterans waiting for care. The proposed Oxnard Community Clinic would expand healthcare and specialty services that local veterans sorely need. I will continue to push for better services and more timely, quality healthcare closer to home for Ventura County veterans,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley.
Under current law, Congress must specifically authorize individual leases for VA medical facilities with average annual rental costs over $1 million. Beginning in 2012, the Congressional Budget Office began assessing the cost of all VA clinics based on the total cost over the life of the lease rather than the annual cost.
House Republican leaders require additional upfront off-sets from other veterans programs to pay for these new veterans’ healthcare facilities, despite the fact that funds to pay for the facilities are already accounted for under the discretionary budget caps. This bureaucratic scoring dispute has led to a significant backlog in approval of much needed facilities, denying veterans equitable treatment.
H.R. 6220 would authorize the 24 leases from FY2016 and FY2017 that have been caught in this bureaucratic roadblock.
In 2015, Brownley introduced separate legislation, the Build a Better VA Act (H.R. 2914), which would provide a long-term fix that allows the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees to authorize new leases via committee resolution. This process is identical to the process for other federal facilities.