Portman, Senate Colleagues Statement on Bipartisan Opposition to the Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission Process

Portman Continues Fight to Keep Chillicothe VA Medical Center Open

June 28, 2022 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), 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), Patty Murray (D-WA), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) released the following joint statement announcing their collective opposition to the Asset and Infrastructure Review (AIR) Commission process moving forward in the Senate, which signifies the end of the AIR Commission:

“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. 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.

NOTE: In March, the VA’s AIR report recommended the closure of Chillicothe VA Medical Center, in Chillicothe, Ohio. Senator Portman expressed his opposition to the proposed closure and pushed the VA to increase services in Chillicothe, including reinstating inpatient services that were stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senators Portman and Brown hosted VA Secretary Denis McDonough when the secretary visited the Chillicothe VA Medical Center in late April, where Senator Portman communicated the concerns of local veterans who depend on Chillicothe. By ending the AIR commission, the senators can help ensure that the medical center will remain open.