A spending bill approved last month includes $8 billion over two years to improve veterans' health care facilities, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes New York will get a significant portion of the funding.
The $1.3 trillion omnibus bill that Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed provides $4 billion in 2018 for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund infrastructure projects, including repairs and upgrades at veterans' medical centers and clinics.
Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters during a conference call Wednesday that there are more than $500 million in projects that are ready to proceed in New York. The only hurdle remaining is to fund the projects, which can be done with the new pot of money.
According to Schumer, there are 16 projects in central New York that will cost $69.3 million. The projects include $17 million to expand primary care and millions more for building and equipment upgrades at the Syracuse VA Medical Facility.
In upstate New York, there are 73 projects requiring an investment of at least $545 million. Schumer said he will urge the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund New York's projects.
"I don't know if we'll get all of it, but we should get a good, good chunk of it," he said.
The state of VA facilities has been well-documented. While there are new centers, some buildings have been around for decades without any significant improvements or repairs.
The money hasn't been available to advance the projects. But in the omnibus bill, Schumer and other lawmakers pushed for the funding.
Improving the medical facilities would benefit more than 800,000 veterans living in New York. Schumer noted that his father, a World War II veteran, goes to a VA facility on Long Island.
"Our VA facilities haven't received much-needed TLC in a long time," Schumer said.