Ms. BROWN of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this long overdue legislation. Among many worthy projects included in this legislation, this bill authorizes the uncompleted construction on the operating rooms at the Miami VA Medical Center.
Every month this construction is delayed, the VA has to pay an additional $500,000 for a portable operating room. Since this was first brought to our attention in May, that will be over $2.5 million as of the end of this month. That is $2,500,000 that could better be spent on the veterans of Florida for their care and comfort.
This project is over 95 percent completed. This bill needs to be passed now.
I want to thank the Chairman of the Veterans' Committee, Mr. MILLER for his help in getting the issue included in a vehicle that could pass both the House and the Senate. There is a dire need for this Medical Center to be whole, with veterans from all over the State of Florida traveling there for treatment.
The original plan for this project was to divide the operating room in half and renovate it in stages. When I visited the Medical Center in June, I heard directly from the administrators of the facility about the project. The planners on the ground realized soon after the construction began that patients could have been put at risk due to contamination of the operating room by the construction on the other side of the room.
Veterans health was being put at risk, and rather than let that happen, it was decided, by those who know veterans health the best, those at the health facilities, to combine the projects into one and rent the portable operating rooms.
It is time for Congress to pass this bill and finish the construction in Miami that our veterans deserve through their service protecting the freedoms this nation hold so dear.