Congress tar­gets dis­abil­ity back­log

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Matthew Daly

WASHINGTON» Congress has sent the pres­i­dent a bill aimed at trim­ming a rapidly grow­ing back­log of veter­ans’ dis­abil­ity claims.

The House ap­proved the bill by voice vote Fri­day dur­ing a brief ses­sion, send­ing the mea­sure to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. The House is on re­cess, but a hand­ful of law­mak­ers gaveled the cham­ber in and out of a ses­sion that lasted less than five min­utes.

The veter­ans’ bill, ap­proved by the Se­nate Aug. 1, would re­duce the time it takes for the De­part­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs to han­dle ap­peals from veter­ans un­happy with their dis­abil­ity pay­outs. The mea­sure is part of an on­go­ing ef­fort to re­duce a long­stand­ing claims back­log and is a pri­or­ity for VA Sec­re­tary David Shulkin, who calls the ap­peals process “bro­ken.”

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., chair­man of the House Veter­ans Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said he was pleased.

Be­sides the claims bill, Congress also ap­proved a mea­sure to re­move time re­stric­tions on veter­ans’ use of GI Bill ben­e­fits and cleared a $3.9 bil­lion emer­gency spend­ing pack­age to fix a loom­ing bud­get cri­sis and ex­tend a pro­gram that al­lows veter­ans to re­ceive pri­vate med­i­cal care at gov­ern­ment ex­pense.

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