Coffman Introduces 'Sell Excess Luxury Lodgings' Act

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Washington, DC, June 6, 2017 | comments

Today, U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) was joined by his colleagues, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Rep. John Duncan (R-TN) and Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH), for the bipartisan introduction of H.R. 2773, the ‘Sell Excess Luxury Lodgings’ or ‘SELL Act’.

The ‘SELL Act’ would direct the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to sell Pershing Hall, a 5-star boutique 24-room hotel, restaurant and club it currently owns in Paris, France.

The property, initially obtained by the VA in 1991, was established by the American Legion as a memorial to soldiers who served in World War I.  In 1998, the VA leased Pershing Hall for a 99-year period to a French firm for the redevelopment of the facility as a hotel. Proceeds from the sale, would be transferred to the American Battle Monuments Commission for maintaining cemeteries, monuments, and memorials.

Upon introduction of the bill, the Representatives offered the following remarks:

The VA needs to focus on serving our veterans, not running a luxury hotel,” said Coffman, adding “To me, it's ridiculous that while there are many more urgent needs, like disability claims backlogs and appointment wait times-- the VA keeps a luxury hotel in Paris on its books. The VA should get back to their core competency, which is to take care of our veterans, not ritzy hotel property management.”

It is past time the VA sold Pershing Hall and redouble its efforts to provide quality, timely healthcare and benefits to our nation’s veterans,” said Rep. Perlmutter.  “I’m glad we can come together to introduce this bipartisan bill to sell Pershing Hall, support the American Battle Monuments Commission, and focus the VA on its mission to serve veterans across Colorado and the country.”  

Congressman Duncan stated, “The VA has no business owning a luxury hotel in Paris, France. This is not their role, and they need to concentrate more on taking care of our sick and wounded Veterans.  I am pleased to join Congressman Coffman and our colleagues in introducing this bill to finally get the VA out of the hotel business.”

At a time when the VA needs to be examining how it can most effectively care for our nation’s veterans, owning a five-star hotel in Paris just doesn’t make sense,” said Congresswoman Kuster.The VA needs to be focused on expanding access to care and improving quality of services at the VA for veterans. I’m pleased to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan commonsense legislation.

Additionally, the ‘Sell Excess Luxury Lodgings’ Act would:

  • Require an independent assessment of the property to ensure fair market value;
  • Require the preservation of architectural details of the exterior and interior of Pershing Hall;
  • Require that all property of General Pershing and the American Expeditionary Forces in France during WWI be transferred to the American Battle Monuments Commission;
  • Require that the funds received from the sale be transferred to the American Battle Monuments Commission for maintaining cemeteries, monuments, and memorials;
  • Abolish the Pershing Hall Revolving Fund and require the remaining funds transferred to the American Battle Monuments Commission; and
  • Report requirement 180 days after the date of enactment, and each 180 day period thereafter until the date of sale.

Click HERE to see the full bill text.

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