ICYMI: Chairman Takano: “It is time to update VA’s infrastructure”
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) delivered remarks in support of the Build Back Better Act of 2021 before the House Rules Committee. Learn more about the veterans provisions included here.
Full Video of the Chairman’s remarks
Chairman Takano’s remarks as prepared:
Good Afternoon, Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole. I am here today in support of The Build Back Better Act of 2021.
As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am proud of the bipartisan work our Committee has done to expand resources for veterans in crisis, reduce veteran suicide, increase VA access for populations of underserved veterans, and ensure veterans receive timely and high-quality care. The legislation before this Committee today will directly support our earlier efforts.
By making a critical investment in VA, we can start rebuilding VA’s capacity in terms of brick-and-mortar infrastructure, human capital, and the support structures that serve our nation’s veterans. If we do not make these much-needed investments now, it will become increasingly difficult to deliver on the promises we have made to our veterans. As demand for care and services at VA continues to grow, the lack of purposeful, usable clinic space will force more care to be sent to the community where providers often lack the military cultural competence to deliver the specialized care our veterans need.
First, the bill would provide $ 2.3 billion dollars for VA’s capital investment portfolio. This is the brick-and-mortar investment that will allow VA to update its aging facilities.
Second, we provide $455 million dollars for VA to invest in a veteran-centric, enhanced-use lease program. This expands 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. This will allow the Department to lease property to serve other veteran needs.
Third, we are providing $1.8 billion dollars for major medical facility leases. This is a key investment, and one that I believe will truly impact veterans, including many veterans in your districts, and vastly improve access to care. It will help VA address a backlog of 21 medical facility leases that have been awaiting congressional action.
Fourth, we need the staff and clinicians to provide the world-class care we have promised to veterans, and this investment in human capital is one of my top priorities. In this package, we provide $268 million dollars for VA to conduct an education and training program for health professionals.
We are authorizing VA to increase the number of health professions residency positions at its medical facilities by up to 500 positions over 7 years. This will help not only veterans but the nation as a whole, by addressing the overall shortage of physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other healthcare professionals.
Fifth, we are providing VA with $150 million dollars to assist the National Archives and Records Administration in digitizing records that are needed to process veterans’ claims for disability benefits. With this investment, it is VA’s intention to have veteran records available on day one of the receipt of a claim at VBA.
Sixth, and finally, we have provided the VA Office of Inspector General with $5 million dollars to carry out enhanced oversight of these investments, which will greatly aid us in our own oversight.
I’ll end by saying 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 effort.
Next Article Previous Article