Draft Bill Calls for ‘BRAC’-like Commission on VA’s Outdated Infrastructure

By Sandra Basu

WASHINGTON—Draft congressional legislation is calling for a commission to make recommendations regarding VA’s infrastructure. Even supporters admit the “deck is stacked against” it.

In introducing the bill, which potentially could lead to the closing of some VA facilities, Rep. Phil Roe, MD, (R-TN), chairman of the House Committee Chairman on Veterans’ Affairs, called it “bold, transformative and controversial.”

“Moving forward with it will require a significant amount of political courage and, let’s face it, members of Congress are not known for that,” Roe said.

Ranking Member Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) said legislators are aware “this is an opportunity,” and reiterated that the issue needs to be addressed.

“We are working side by side on this, but it is a journey, and it is going to be a tough one,” Walz said of the bill.

The draft bill would establish an 11-member paid commission that would consider recommendations made by VA for closure, modernization and realignment.

The bill calls for the commission to hold public hearings on VA’s recommendations and then send a report of its findings, conclusions, and recommendations to President Donald Trump. If he signs off, the recommendations would go to Congress and, if approved there, VA would be required to implement them

“Should Congress disagree with the commission’s recommendations, we would have 45 days to issue a joint resolution of disapproval,” Roe explained.

The bill requires VA to perform an assessment of its facilities, taking into factors including “access to care, the capacity of the local healthcare market, input from local veterans and stakeholders, and potential costs and savings.”

The criteria would be published in the Federal Register, subject to a 30-day public comment period,” Roe said.

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