Chair­man San­ders De­tails VA Pro­posal

Stanstead Journal - - NEWS - Washig­ton

Se­nateVeter­ans’ Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bernie San­ders (I-Vt.) de­tailed com­pro­mise leg­is­la­tion, on July 24th, that he of­fered to House ne­go­tia­tors that would re­form the VA and give it the tools to pro­vide qual­ity, timely health care to vet­er­ans.

The pro­posal would ad­dress the need for short-term, emer­gency ac­cess to care while strength­en­ing VA’s ca­pac­ity to ad­dress vet­er­ans’ needs in the long term. It also in­cludes a pro­vi­sion to al­low for the re­moval of in­com­pe­tent officials at the VA.

The Se­nate voted 93-3 on June 11 for a bill that the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice es­ti­mated would cost $35 bil­lion. The House separately passed vet­er­ans leg­is­la­tion that CBO es­ti­mated would cost $44 bil­lion. San­ders’ lat­est pro­posal – given last Fri­day to House Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) – would cost less than $25 bil­lion.

In­stead of work­ing con­struc­tively to­ward a com­pro­mise, Miller uni­lat­er­ally called a “con­fer­ence com­mit­tee meet­ing” to un­veil his take-it-or-leave-it gam­bit. “This is a sad in­di­ca­tion that the House lead­er­ship is not se­ri­ous about ne­go­ti­a­tions. We don’t need more speeches and pos­tur­ing. We need se­ri­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions – 24/7 if nec­es­sary – to re­solve our dif­fer­ences in order to pass crit­i­cal leg­is­la­tion,” San­ders said.

“The ma­jor vet­er­ans’ or­ga­ni­za­tions have been clear about the needs of the VA. It is time for the House to pay at­ten­tion,” San­ders added. He was re­fer­ring to a let­ter sent on Wed­nes­day from the na­tion’s ma­jor vet­er­ans groups back­ing in­creased fund­ing for more doc­tors, nurses and space at VA fa­cil­i­ties.

San­ders said the pro­posal that he de­tailed for Miller on Mon­day con­cedes that some of the costs of this bill should be off­set and would pro­vide more than $2.5 bil­lion in sav­ings from within the Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Com­mit­tees’ ju­ris­dic­tion. “What it does not con­cede,” San­ders said, “is that the cost of war is ex­pen­sive and that the cost of war does not end when the last shots are fired and the last mis­siles are launched. The cost of war con­tin­ues un­til the last vet­eran re­ceives the care and ben­e­fits that he or she has earned on the bat­tle­field.”

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