A Nebraska senator is pushing a proposal to speed up construction of Veterans Administration hospitals.
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer says VA hospitals across the country are aging and need replacement. She says communities are willing to help, they just need the go ahead.
Fischer proposes the Veterans Administration be allowed to form a partnership with communities which could help plan, build, and even pay for new VA hospitals.
“I think it’ll be available on possibly a limited few projects right now so we can see how this is going to work,” Fischer tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call.
Fischer has testified before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs about her proposal. She told committee members her bill would allow the VA to accept donations of money and buildings to help accelerate delayed projects.
Congressman Brad Ashford sponsors similar legislation in the House, with Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith as co-sponsors.
Fischer says a number of factors have caused delays in replacing aging VA hospitals. The number of projects creates problems in and of itself. Also, VA hospitals can prove costly. A construction project in Denver is hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Congress has set aside $56 million to replace the VA hospital in Omaha.
Fischer says her proposal would work best with projects already funded by Congress. Communities, under the legislation, would be allowed to contribute the money needed to complete projects.
Fischer adds replacing the 65-year-old VA hospital in Omaha would be a perfect place to start.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]