By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman, As published in the November 2015 issue of the Internet Observer
Today is October 6, 2015. We are still celebrating the fact that the US House of Representatives voted to approve the $625 million dollars needed to complete the new replacement VA Medical Center (VAMC). Approval was not a slam-dunk.
The conservative tea party wing of the Republican Party was opposed to the funding. Last minute changes proposed by Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Veterans Affairs Committee, to place restrictions on how the $625 million dollars could be spent, put the funding at risk. The Senate had previously approved the funding without restriction. Had Miller’s changes been implemented, the Senate would not have had time to address any changes prior to the passing of the Continuing Resolution (CR). The CR required passage or the federal government would have shutdown. The $625 million dollars with restrictions would have created problems for Kiewit Turners’ (KT) contractors. Restrictions would also have caused a further lack of confidence with the VA. Restricted funding would have translated into higher costs and further delays.
Anyway the problem has been resolved. The approval of the VAMC and the efforts to gain approval for completion was successful. This approval didn’t happen by chance. Special accolades go out to our representatives that made this VAMC possible.
Congressman Ed Perlmutter was instrumental in getting the medical center approved and funded. Sen. Bennett, when a newly appointed Senator, also participated in the initial approval and later fought for funding. Sen. Cory Gardner was a key figure in getting the final $625 million dollars needed. I believe Gardner relationship with Speaker Boehner helped get the funding approved in the House. Congressman Coffman helped drive the effort to the finish line by his idea to utilize the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Representative Coffman and Lamborn with positions on the House Veterans Affairs Committee surely helped. For the most part, the entire Colorado delegation supported the VAMC.
On Wednesday, Oct 7, 2015, the Legion in concert with the UVC participated in the KT quarterly briefing. In addition to the VSOs, KT, USACE, and the VA were all present. The relationships are as follows: the VA is the owner, the USACE provides management, and KT is the general contractor. The contract between KT and the USACE is expected within weeks. At that time, expect over 1,200 workers on site. A firm completion date will be specified upon completion of KT/ USACE contract.
The PTSD inpatient clinic and the nursing home (CLC) have not been resolved. The Legion and the UVC will work tirelessly to get these facilities completed.