U.S. Reps. Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) and Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) introduced legislation this week to authorize $38 million for a new nursing care home at the VA’s American Lake facility in Lakewood, Washington.  The new home would replace the current facility, which the VA has cited for seismic and other safety risks.

"The American Lake home is unsafe and the veterans there are at risk," said Rep. Smith. “These brave veterans have served our nation proudly and our now some of the most frail and vulnerable among us.  We owe it to them to fix this problem.”

The legislation aims to end a Congressional delay in approving funding for the facility. While the House and the Senate Appropriations Committee have approved bills appropriating funds for the project, neither chamber has authorized the funding—a requirement for major construction projects.  The FY07 budget submitted by the President recognized that the American Lake project is a top priority, and included a request that Congress provide the $38 million for next year.

Rep. Dicks noted that, "The decision made by the VA to seek replacement funding for the American Lake facility recognizes not only the immediate safety issues involved but also the urgent need for nursing care services to a substantial population of veterans in the greater Pierce County area. Congress now needs to act on this authorization bill to match the urgency of the Administration's efforts."

Rep. Smith added, “We need to get this funding approved immediately, and this bill would remove the last remaining obstacle,” said Smith.  “We’ll keep working with Senators Murray and Cantwell and other supporters to get this done.”