RUMFORD — Congressmen Jared Golden, D-Maine, and David McKinley, R-West Virginia, have introduced a bipartisan bill designed to prevent the closure of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in rural communities across the country, including Rumford, Houlton and Fort Kent.

According to a written statement issued by the congressmen Tuesday, the bill would eliminate the Asset and Infrastructure Commission, which was created by Congress in 2018 and is charged with reviewing and processing VA recommendations that seek to close the three VA facilities listed above and reduce health care services available at Togus.

The VA recommendations to the AIR Commission included:

• Closure of the Rumford Community-Based Outpatient Clinic

• Closure of the Houlton Community-Based Outpatient Clinic


• Closure of the Fort Kent Community-Based Outpatient Clinic

• Relocating Community and Residential Care from Togus VA to Portland

• Ending emergency department services at Togus VA

• Consolidating the services offered at the closed facilities into facilities that would remain open, like those at Togus, or into facilities that have yet to be built.

Golden’s bill is similar to legislation offered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and John Tester, D-Montana.

According to the statement issued by Golden and McKinley, neither the House nor the Senate have taken the legislative action necessary to permanently eliminate the commission and prevent the recommended closures.

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