Ernst Amendment Would Have Eliminated VA Wasteful Spending on Art

Agency spent $20 million on artwork amidst scandal

VA hospital
AP

An amendment offered by Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) would have eliminated wasteful spending by the Veterans Affairs administration on artwork, which the agency has spent $20 million during the healthcare scandal.

Ernst’s amendment, attached to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act in May, would have prohibited funding for art work or art related consulting services until the backlog for veterans seeking primary care has been eliminated.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported, a joint investigation by Open the Books and COX Media found that the VA spent $20 million on artwork while thousands of veterans died waiting to see doctors. The spending included $670,000 for sculptures at facilities for the blind and $115,600 for "art consultants" at a Palo Alto facility.

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"It is imperative that our country lives up to the promises made to our veterans and to ensure they receive a quality of care that we can all be proud of," Ernst said when offering the amendment. "This bill includes funding for veterans reform priorities, including construction of military hospitals and health facilities, improvements to benefit claims processing, added whistleblower protections, support for veterans’ caregiver services, homeless veterans’ assistance, and medical and prosthetic research."

"I’m especially pleased with the accountability measures provided to ensure taxpayer money is spent wisely," she said.

Though the legislation was not adopted, Ernst, who is the first female combat veteran to serve in the Senate, said she will continue to work to reform the VA.

"While the amendment was ultimately not taken up or adopted, Senator Ernst will continue working to point out waste and abuse at the VA and to work to ensure veterans receive the timely, quality care they deserve," a spokesperson for Ernst said.