Sending Office: Honorable Julia Brownley
Cosponsor the Build a Better VA Act
116th cosponsors: Cole, K. Hill, Van Drew
I write to request your support for my bill, the Build a Better VA Act (H.R. 1722), which would modify the current process for approving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facility leases.
Under current law, every major medical facility lease — leases which incur yearly rental costs of over $1 million — made by VA must be specifically authorized by Congress. For many years, Congress authorized leases routinely. However, in 2012, the Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) changed its method of scoring VA lease authorization legislation. Instead of scoring the annual cost of the lease, CBO scores reflect the cost for the duration of the lease – often 20 years or more. For instance, CBO now scores a 20-year
lease, which costs $5 million a year, at $100 million in the first year.
CBO’s new scoring mechanism has made it very difficult for the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees to authorize new facility leases. This is despite the fact that the funds are accounted for under the annual discretionary budget caps and appropriated
annually. This has led to a bizarre situation where Congress has appropriated funds for VA’s medical facilities, but the VA can’t actually lease the facility.
While Congress is bogged down in this bureaucratic dispute, the demand for VA health care is increasing, and many veterans trying to access VA care face long wait times and crumbling infrastructure at outdated VA clinics and medical centers.
My bill offers a simple solution to this dilemma: it would allow major medical facility leases to be authorized by a Committee resolution rather than legislation. This is the same process used previously by the House and Senate VA Committees, and is the
same process currently used for other agency leases that are executed by the General Services Administration.
This more rational approach would ensure that veterans have access to needed healthcare facilities, and will help address the unacceptable wait-times faced by many of our veterans in underserved communities.
If you would like to co-sponsor the Build a Better VA Act, or would like additional information about the bill, please email Daniel.Dick@mail.house.gov.
Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0