Frank McCurdy, NEC

Frank McCurdy, NEC

By: Frank McCurdy, National Executive Committeeman – As Published in the October 2015 Internet Observer

Today is September 15, 2015. The Veteran Community is concerned that the $625 million dollars needed to complete the VA Medical Center at Fitzsimons (VAMC) may be at risk. The 2016 Federal Budget should be completed and approved by Oct 1st, 2015. Unfortunately, the federal budget has not been approved. The Tea Party House Republicans are threatening to shut down the government, “again.” The latest 150 million dollars of interim financing approved to keep the VAMC project progressing will run out September 30, 2015. At that point, Kiewit Turner may walk off the job,” again” as they did last December 2014. “What is wrong with these people?” Fortunately, the VA appears to have a plan that is workable.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald submitted a plan to Congress, specifically, to Speaker John Boehner that addresses the previous Congressional objections to include accountability and cost justification. The VA, the Army Corp of Engineers the new construction manager, and Contractor Kiewit Turner have come to agreement on costs and terms. The accountability issues are a work in progress and must comply with the protections of the Civil Service Rules. The 625 million dollars the VA identified, will not impact other VA projects in other states. Because Congress has not completed the 2016 Federal Budget, how would Congress keep the government operating?

There is a tool the Congress uses, called a “CONTINUING RESOLUTION” or CR to keep the government operating without the benefit of an approved budget. It is sometimes referred to as “kicking the can down the road.” Under this scenario, passage of a CR would allow the government to continue to operate using the budget figures of the previous budget. Sequestration could impact the budget but that is another article. There is another tool the Congress could use to fund the VAMC.

That is called an “ANOMALY” or “not normal.” For example, it is not normal for a project to be this badly mismanaged; therefore, “not normal.” If the battle in Congress results in an approved CR, that would be a great success. Simply include an ANOMALY. And, it is party time. If not, our work is not complete. Surely common sense should prevail and Congress passes the CR. If not, we need to keep our Congressman accountable for their vote. Hopefully I don’t have to write that article.