Senate reaches deal on VA bill
June 5th, 2014
04:38 PM ET
2 months ago

Senate reaches deal on VA bill

(CNN) – Bipartisan Senate negotiators struck a deal on Thursday on a far-reaching bill to respond to the health care scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The crisis around veterans on long waiting lists to get medical appointments led to the resignation last week of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The bill would create 26 new VA health facilities in 18 states and allow hiring of new doctors and nurses to care for growing rolls of veterans seeking care from the VA.

It would also let patients who live far away from VA facilities to go to doctors of their choosing and bill the Veterans Affairs Department.

In addition, it would give greater flexibility to the agency's secretary to quickly remove incompetent or dishonest senior executives, something seen as a core issue in the current scandal.

The compromise was reached primarily between Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent, and Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican.

It still needs to go to the floor for approval of the full Senate. That could happen as soon as next week, according to aides.

Those aides predicted it probably would be approved because lawmakers are anxious to show their constituents they are responding to the scandal.

"Given the crisis we have right now, this is an important step forward," Sanders said when announcing the agreement on the Senate floor.

"We were able to come together I believe in a way to help to relieve this terrible tragedy that seems to have befallen our nations' veterans," McCain said.

Any bill on this issue must be reconciled with legislation also approved by the House.


Filed under: Senate • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Dead Bear

    A deal got done?! Did all the obstructionist Republican Senators stay home today or something?

    June 5, 2014 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Chris-E...al

    Vets deserve this and more . Vets really deserve more respect from the dems . 0ur friends on the left just dont get what it means to be a man or woman uniform or not . They sleep on the job an then lay blame on anything but the mirror i wouldnt look either !

    June 5, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. ProudDem

    Chris....you do realize that it was the GOP who filibustered this bill in another form just a few months ago right? I recall one GOP senator on the floor saying "I dont think our Vets want this if it will increase the deficit"....why point to the Dems as not showing respect?

    June 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. Gary

    So what did the senile Senator from the state with the worse VA problems do to help solve the problem. He wrote a letter.
    Now thats leadership.

    June 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Pollopa

    Chris E

    Really lost on everything going on in the world aren't you. Attacking the dems is all you have? Sad man really sad. How about celebrating an achievement by one level of government and asking the congress to act accordingly if you reallly give a hoot about us vets. As a dem in uniform you insult me a vet. What does that make you? Look in the mirror indeed.

    June 5, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    Since the GOP has make a "new" issue out of this decades old problem, they are forced to get off their duff and actually vote for something. I am amazed they remember how. That backfired nicely!

    June 5, 2014 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Rick McDaniel

    They should have done all of this, 13 yrs. ago.

    June 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. drake mallard

    GOP had cut the VA funds considerably since 1999.
    Before Obama took office there were 918, 000 veterans those are needed for the care, now the current rate is 338,000 veterans needs to be treated. So Obama has done lot of good effort and increased funding.
    GOP on the other hand cut every VA bill and also filibustered so many bills, resulted in back log... So please be quite...
    Go and google it you will find different.

    June 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. CALIFORNIA

    How about the impeachment of this law breaking president.

    June 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. just asking

    i just hope this isn't throwing more and more money down a corrupt bureaucratic black hole. we had corrupt criminal people engaged in criminal activity to get millions in bonus money and causing people to die in the process! there is a people problem that needs to be fixed with terminations. i hope they don't just stack more money for these criminals to target.

    June 5, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  11. McRCN

    It will be interesting to see whose districts will get the 26 new VA medical facilities.

    June 5, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  12. jib76

    Will House Republicans block increased spending on healthcare for vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

    June 5, 2014 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  13. CALIFORNIA

    Will democrats attache massive pork to the bill?

    OF COURSE.

    June 5, 2014 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  14. CALIFORNIA

    The Vietnam war proved to everyone in this country how much democrats love our vets.

    June 5, 2014 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  15. CALIFORNIA

    Senate reaches deal on VA bill?

    Really? The democrats have agreed to stop killing them?

    June 5, 2014 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. excuse my rant

    "Any bill on this issue must be reconciled with legislation also approved by the House."

    My guess is that the House will amend the bill to also defund the ACA.

    June 5, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  17. alex

    Why doe it take a crisis for republicans to do their job?

    June 5, 2014 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  18. mtskier7

    It would be a blessing to have Gen. Shinseki back to implement this funding–if it really gets approved. i'm really sick of the reps blocking everything and then trying to sweet talk back into acceptance. In 2006, we marched on Wash for Mandatory funding and Congress finally gave us "full funding" but never approves "all" of the money so the VA could accomplishing their mission.

    June 5, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  19. Ulysses

    They don't need more special facilities... they need health coverage they can take to any doctor's office. Making veterans travel hundreds of miles to a VA facility when they could potentially go down the street to a local doctor is ridiculous. It is an obvious solution staring us in the face and I know many fellow vets who feel the EXACT same way. Guess what? I get paid mileage to travel those hundreds of miles and even used to get put up in a hotel for FREE when traveling for care. In some cases, veterans can get approval for care faster or nearer where they live... but not without fighting for it (see "Squeaky Wheel Theory") However, the VA is not likely to give up control of all that money without a fight.

    June 5, 2014 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  20. Gurgyl

    What VA deal? Put them under the purview of ACA Law.

    June 5, 2014 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  21. Marie MD

    So now the teaklans care about our Vets?
    Just glad that something got done but the teaklans could have done something months ago but they had to go against our President at the time.

    June 5, 2014 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. Robin Jones

    The VA can't properly manage the facilities it already has. It already has 400 openings for primary care physicians it can't seem to fill. It has had money left over every year for the past 5 years that it has not put to work for veterans. Much of this bill appears to have only two real purposes, both of doubtful benefit to veterans: 1) Politicians want to make it look like they're doing something, anything. 2) More pork for the districts getting the 26 additional facilities. The VA medical service should be shut down entirely and replaced by insurance that veterans can use to get medical care when, where and from whom they choose.

    June 5, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  23. SamT

    First, create a problem (siphon money away from VA hospitals). Second, this creates a reaction with the people ("This is awful! Something must be done!"). Third, roll out the "solution" which was planned all along (increase funding to an already bloated gov't program). Hegelian Dialectic in motion.

    June 5, 2014 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. alohagw

    The VA does not need more facilities, they need to get out of the healthcare business.

    June 5, 2014 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  25. Sol

    But the Republican House needs to pass it and provide appropriations.

    June 5, 2014 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
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