LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s been a controversy for well over a decade: The future of the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville. Now, the Senate Majority Leader says the money is promised.
One year after neighbors filed suit against the federal government over the site chosen for the new VA Medical Center - at Brownsboro Road at the Watterson - Senator Mitch McConnell announced Monday, it will be happening.
United States Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Monday that President Donald Trump will submit a plan to fully fund the new Robley Rex VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Louisville, with his 2020 budget request to Congress. McConnell says President Trump has assured him the center will be fully funded.
As far as the neighbors are concerned? It doesn’t change anything.
“I came today to make a little news,” McConnell said as he walked into the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Louisville Monday morning. “I talked to the President last week. "He called me and indicated he’s going to include roughly $400 million in his budget for the VA.”
McConnell says the President’s budget is typically the starting point for projects, not the endzone but, a milestone.
“And this will be the first time any Presidential budget has included full funding,” McConnell said.
The Senate Majority Leader said it makes it much easier when the appropriations process unfolds to complete the funding, for a VA project announced 13 years ago, under President Bush.
“Show me the money, I’d like to see results,” said Crossgate neighbor Irene Yeager.
Yeager and other Crossgate residents who back up to the controversial Brownsboro Road site are among the neighborhood groups involved in the lawsuit.
“We will continue to request and demand to have a new NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) ruling on it, because it’s not sufficient,” Yeager said.
Neighbors want a new comprehensive traffic and environmental study due to growing traffic in the area, with multiple schools, homes and businesses. After years of fighting, neighbors don’t plan to give up anytime soon just because of Monday’s announcement. McConnell isn’t either.
“I’m aware there’s still litigation,” McConnell said, “that’s between the VA and the plaintiffs.”
The Senator said Monday he wants ground broken for the project in 2020.
McConnell says once the $400 million in the President’s budget is signed off on by Congress, the entire amount needed for the project, which is over $900 million.
Greater Louisville Inc. released this statement Monday afternoon:
“GLI is pleased to see that the remaining funding is being put in place to build a new Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville. Senator McConnell has continued to be a champion for this incredibly important project. The VA Medical Center is especially important to veterans throughout this region who deserve the best quality of care. They have been waiting more than a decade for a modern, state-of-the-art healthcare facility in Louisville. We urge Congress to approve the remaining funding so they can start working soon at the selected site.”