Tester, Moran, Reed, Rounds, Hoeven Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Cut Red Tape, Invest in VA Infrastructure for Veterans
Senators’ legislation to streamline delivery of construction projects nationwide
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) partnered with U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) in introducing their bipartisan Department of Veterans Affairs Minor Construction Threshold Adjustment Act of 2023 to cut red tape on infrastructure projects to better serve the nation’s veterans.
The Senators’ bipartisan legislation would streamline the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) delivery of Minor Construction projects nationwide by adjusting outdated federal policies hampering the ability of local VA facilities to plan and execute health care construction projects to serve veterans. This bill is the first to make improvements to the program since the VA MISSION Act in 2018.
“We need to make sure VA’s infrastructure is keeping pace with the growing needs of veterans and their families—especially in rural states like Montana,” said Tester. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in our bipartisan push to cut red tape that’ll provide VA the tools to deliver on that promise, all while saving taxpayer dollars. This bill will allow us to keep investing in veterans’ care for years to come, and I won’t stop pushing until it gets across the finish line.”
“VA medical facilities should be equipped to provide veterans with timely, quality care, which requires periodic updates, renovations and improvements to keep these buildings in working condition,” said Moran. “This legislation will help cut through the red tape and streamline the process to provide VA with the resources needed to keep its medical centers in excellent condition to serve our nation’s veterans.”
“From passing the PACT Act to expanding mental health care to enhancing caregiver assistance, Chairman Tester is a true champion for veterans. This bipartisan bill is another example of his tireless work to improve veterans’ services and modernize VA infrastructure. This bill will streamline the VA’s ability to continue to get critical construction projects in small states like Rhode Island done in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner,” said Reed.
“It is crucial that the VA has the infrastructure necessary to provide our veterans and their families with the health care services they have earned,” said Rounds. “Currently, ‘minor construction’ projects at VA medical facilities do not have to go through the same lengthy approval process that ‘major construction’ projects do. Congress has not adjusted the dollar threshold for minor construction projects since 2018, but construction costs have dramatically increased since then due to record inflation. This has forced the VA to go through additional approval steps for relatively small-scale projects and resulted in many important projects being placed on hold. Our bipartisan legislation would increase the dollar threshold for minor construction projects so that the VA can upgrade its facilities in a more timely manner and provide adequate care for our veterans for years to come.”
“Our bipartisan bill will help to improve and streamline the process for constructing smaller-scale VA projects,” said Hoeven. “Updating the threshold for minor construction projects, will help VA move forward projects for our veterans more efficiently, and ensure that those who have served our nation have better access to the care and services they have earned.”
Over the last several years, the cost of construction has increased due to inflation, supply chain challenges, price of materials, and other related issues. This legislation would account for those changes and streamline VA’s rules to ensure projects can be carried out more quickly at local VA facilities across the country while saving taxpayer dollars. It would also direct VA to develop a new process to adjust, every two years, which projects can be carried out locally while ensuring Congressional oversight. This will have the practical impact of speeding delivery of construction projects and modernized facilities—improving veterans’ access to high quality health care.
The Senators’ Veterans Affairs Minor Construction Threshold Adjustment Act of 2023 is supported by numerous Veterans Service Organizations.
“In order to continue providing high-quality, specialized health care, VA must ensure that its infrastructure keeps pace with advances in the provision of medical services and the requirements of veterans with the greatest support needs,” said Associate Executive Director of Government Relations for Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Heather Ansley. “However, the low threshold for minor construction projects often forces VA to do multiple small projects, which is an inefficient use of VA funding and disruptive of the medical center’s operations. The Department of Veterans Affairs Minor Construction Threshold Adjustment Act of 2023 would increase the minor construction project threshold and require VA to develop a process to ensure that the amount keeps pace with construction costs in the future. PVA appreciates the efforts of Senators Tester, Moran, Reed, Rounds, and Hoeven to pass legislation that will have a direct impact on improving care for veterans.”
“On behalf of our more than 1.6 million members, The American Legion supports the Department of Veterans Affairs Minor Construction Threshold Adjustment Act of 2023,” said The American Legion’s National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola. “This commonsense reform will serve as a victory for veterans and their families by continuously adjusting the monetary threshold for the VA’s construction projects and infrastructure enhancements to meet the demands of both congressional oversight and improving modernization efforts. We applaud Senator Tester for his continued dedication to ensuring the VA has state-of-the-art facilities to support veterans’ medical and mental healthcare needs.”
“DAV has long advocated for the resources to modernize the VA’s aging medical facilities nationwide,” said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Commander Joe Parsetich. “While Secretary McDonough has outlined infrastructure improvement as a priority, the department currently has to navigate bureaucratic red tape in order to authorize and fund projects exceeding $20 million. This has forced the VA to focus on smaller piecemeal projects that are an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. Immediately increasing this threshold to $30 million and updating it every two years through passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Minor Construction Threshold Adjustment Act of 2023 would greatly assist the department in its efforts to more quickly upgrade its facilities by streamlining the process. We thank Sen. Tester for his leadership in introducing this bipartisan legislation and applaud the bill’s co-sponsors for their dedication in ensuring our nation’s veterans receive high-quality care in safe, modern facilities.”
“The VFW fully supports this proposal which would improve VA’s construction around the country,”said Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Legislative Director Pat Murray. “VA infrastructure is the backbone of VA health care. We must make improvements in the planning and construction of these facilities to provide top-notch care our veterans have earned.”