(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.