Biden’s “Buy America” Deal Is Leaving Senior Veterans Without Housing

hardvicore /
hardvicore /

On the surface, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law looks good to most Americans. Designed to help get American companies to build more housing and new structures across the country, it puts people back to work and gets people into affordable housing. Yet, an underreported portion called Build America, Buy America (BABA), is taking out these projects at their knees, specifically those for older Veterans in need.

While BABA has existed in other forms for years, the latest version included terms like “construction materials” and fluffed up the meaning of “infrastructure” to include singular structures. As a result, the VA’s State Home Veterans Construction Grant Program is now a logistical nightmare.

Designed to provide 24/7 nursing home care to older and severely disabled veterans, these buildings are needed nationwide. Roughly two-thirds of the construction cost is covered by the federal government; after that, the remaining costs and the costs for the operation of the facility rely on the state where the facility is located.

Numerous states are still waiting on new locations that were delayed pre-COVID. Now the construction is being delayed even more. To get the funding needed to finish them, they must be BABA compliant. While VA Secretary Denis McDonough had previously approved waivers on this requirement before, he told concerned veterans in Idaho that he was ending them, according to attendees.

In response to this news, Idaho’s veteran’s office conducted a study into the results of these BABA changes. While this research took 1,500 hours and cost them $200k, they found that in just one Boise residence projected to house 122 beds, they would need $13 million more to complete constriction. Even then, they would still need the VA to approve waivers on unavailable products, something not possible with McDonough at the helm.

Even though BABA specifically allows waivers when using American would add 25% or more to the costs or products aren’t available, neither McDonough nor the VA would budge. Pulling the plug on the project even after the state had already spent $7 million, it’s clear that the Biden administration is more worried about optics than realities. It’s pathetic that looking good on paper means more than taking care of our nation’s bravest.