CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 3521, the Department of Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Lease Authorization Act of 2013, as Amended, under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) on November 18, 2013 and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote.
H.R. 3521 authorizes the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out major medical facility leases at twenty seven facilities requested by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in their 2013 and 2014 budget submissions. Moreover, this legislation would make a number of Congressional findings and establish requirements related to the budget treatment of major medical facility leases in order to ensure that this legislation meets the spirit and intent of House CUTGO requirements.
Last year, when the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs was considering legislation to authorize major medical leases, the Congressional Budget Office expressed concerns about how to account for the VA’s lease authorizations. In a March 22nd letter to Chairman Miller, the CBO determined that these leases were “essentially purchases of facilities built specifically for VA’s use, and therefore that the costs of acquiring them should be recorded in the budget when the VA enters into the lease, rather than spread out over the duration of the lease.” Having changed the definition of these leases from “operating leases” to “capital leases,” the CBO has redefined these acquisitions as direct spending. This means that, in order to meet CUTGO requirements, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs would be required to find over $2.3 billion in up-front savings from other government programs. This legislation would allow the authorization of these leases, while establishing requirements that would ensure that the authorization of these leases would fulfill the original intent of CUTGO rules.
 CUTGO is a budget rule that requires any increase in mandatory spending be offset “only with equal or greater decreases in mandatory spending.” See http://conginst.org/112th-congress-house-floor-procedures-manual/xix-cut-as-you-go-cutgo/
CBO estimates that enacting this bill would increase direct spending by about $1.4 billion over the 2014-2023 period, and would have a discretionary cost of $124 million over the 2014-2023 period.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.