Build Back Better Act Passes the House
Democrats Deliver Key Wins for Veterans
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act of 2021, which includes vital investments to update VA’s aging infrastructure, its workforce, and the support structures that serve our veterans.
“Many VA hospitals are over 50 years old, and it’s clear there are places where the infrastructure of these buildings is failing our veterans—President Biden’s Build Back Better Act will help address this problem,” said Chairman Takano. “I am so glad my colleagues joined me today to pass the Build Back Better Act because this transformational bill will give VA critical funding to update its aging infrastructure, support its workforce, and bolster the support structures that serve our veterans. Nearly three fourths of Americans agree that it is time to update VA’s infrastructure—the Build Back Better Act gives us the framework to begin that work, and I eagerly await swift passage in the Senate.”
The Build Back Better Act will:
- Provide $2.3 billion in resources for VA’s capital investment portfolio. This investment in the brick-and-mortar infrastructure will allow VA to update aging facilities. If we want VA to deliver 21st century care, we need to ensure VA has 21st century infrastructure.
- Allocate $1.8 billion for major medical facility leases. This is a key investment that will help VA address a backlog of medical facility leases that have been awaiting congressional authorization and one that will truly impact veterans by vastly improving access to healthcare.
- Set aside $455 million for VA to invest in a veteran-centric, enhanced-use lease program. This expands on VA’s existing authority to lease vacant or under-utilized buildings to organizations that provide services to veterans. VA can already lease property to organizations that provide supportive housing, but this will allow the Department to lease property to serve other veteran needs.
- Provide $268 million to conduct an education and training program for health professional students and residents. This would increase the number of health professions residency positions at VA medical facilities by up to 500 positions over 7 years, helping not only veterans, but the nation as a whole, by addressing the overall shortage of physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals.
- Secure $150 million to address the backlog of unscanned veteran records. VA needs a modern and efficient method for managing veterans service records. With additional funding, VA plans to have more veteran records available on day one of the receipt of a claim at VBA.
- Include $5 million for VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). This will allow the OIG to carry out enhanced oversight of these investments, which will greatly aid Congress in its own oversight of VA’s efforts.
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