June 27, 2022
Manchin: VA Air Commission Is Dead
Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), announced the Veterans Affairs (VA) Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission will not move forward because it is officially opposed by 12 bipartisan Senators, signifying the end of the AIR Commission. Without the Senate’s approval of the Commission and its nominees, no Commission will be established and the process as outlined by the VA MISSION Act will not move forward. Senator Manchin made the announcement at the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Charleston. Photos and video can be found here and here.
The bipartisan Senators released the following statement, “As Senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s Veterans. We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal, and would put Veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward. The Commission is not necessary for our continued push to invest in VA health infrastructure, and together we remain dedicated to providing the Department with the resources and tools it needs to continue delivering quality care and earned services to Veterans in 21st century facilities—now and into the future.”
In 2018 Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the VA MISSION Act. Among its many provisions, the law required the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to research, develop and publish a list of recommendations intended to modernize VA medical facilities and health care delivery—including through facility expansions, relocations, closures or changes in services. The law further directed those recommendations to be reviewed by a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed Commission, which would then report its views of the recommendations to the President who could end the process or present recommendations to Congress for a vote.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released its preliminary recommendations for the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission to consider which would significantly alter services provided to rural Veterans across West Virginia and the United States. If implemented, the recommendations would downsize three out of four of the VAMCs in West Virginia.
As a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (SVAC), Senator Manchin and Chairman of the Committee, Senator Tester, will not advance the nominees of the Commission. Without the Senate’s approval of the nominees, no Commission will be established and the process as outlined by the VA MISSION Act will not move forward. SVAC will continue to work towards improving VA infrastructure, without doing so at the expense of rural states.
Senator Manchin was joined by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Steve Daines (R-MT) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
Senator Manchin’s recent efforts to address this issue can be found here.
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