Wyden, Merkley Announce Millions in Military Construction Projects, VA Health Care

Washington, D.C.
– Working to provide the means to
keep Oregon’s military infrastructure up-to-date and to ensure emergency
services have the tools to keep residents safe, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden
(D-Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) announced millions in funding for Oregon as
part of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies
Appropriations bill passed by the Senate. The bill also marks the first time
that the veterans health care funding will be budgeted for a two-year period
supplanting the yearly budgeting process.

“In addition to boosting job growth and improving Oregon’s
military infrastructure and emergency services, this bill will ensure that
veterans healthcare funding is no longer treated like a political football
every year,” Wyden said. “Budgeting for two years at a time will help to
take the political wrangling out of the process and improve the department’s
ability to plan for long-term health care goals.”

“I can’t think of a better way to put people to work than
to help restore crumbling infrastructure, improve the quality of life for our
veterans and upgrade emergency services for local residents,” said Merkley. 
”This bill will also streamline the budgeting process and remove cumbersome red
tape that impedes Congress from providing health clinics with the resources
they need to take care of our veterans and men and women in uniform.”

The bill will be reconciled with the version passed by the
House of Representatives and then sent to the President for his signature.
Funding will only be available at the end of the process.

Projects included in the Military Construction
appropriations bill include:

Camp Withycombe Infrastructure – $1,226,000

This project will support existing and future construction,
such as improvements to roads with curbs and landscaping, fitting storm and
sewer systems with a new manhole connection, improvements to the power
infrastructure and replacement of all overhead copper with fiber communication
systems. The project will also reconfigure gas lines and connections, install
new water lines with new building connections and valves as well as install
lights in compounds and on the street. 

Camp Rilea Water Supply System – $3,369,000

This project will develop an independent water supply system
to provide potable drinking water and fire suppression water for Camp Rilea’s
residents and emergency populations. The project includes construction of three
200’ groundwater supply wells, a 48’ by 60’ water treatment plant, a 400,000
gallon storage reservoir and well pump stations.

Washington County Readiness Center – $386,000 

The funding will provide for the design of a replacement to
the existing armory in Hillsboro, Ore. to adequately accommodate units of D
Company, 2nd Battalion of the 162 Infantry Regiment. It would
construct a 37,707 sq. ft. facility to support administrative and training functions
for the unit with adequate classroom and administrative space for training and
operations for homeland security, anti-terrorism, and force protection.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also included positive
language about building a long-term care facility on the grounds of the Walla
Walla VA Medical Center in Walla Walla, Washington. The facility currently
serves veterans of northern Oregon and southern Washington State. The committee
supports the creation of a jointly-operated veterans’ home and encourages the
VA to put the project on the priority list for construction grants.