Tentative agreement reached on U.S. veterans' funding bill

WASHINGTON Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:50pm EDT

1 of 2. Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed by a Reuters reporter at Sanders' office in Burlington, Vermont November 28, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tentative agreement has been reached by the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House veterans committees on legislation aimed at resolving the Veterans Affairs healthcare crisis, their spokesmen said on Sunday.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and his House counterpart, Republican Representative Jeff Miller, will outline the agreement at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, their spokesmen said.

"Miller and Sanders continued negotiations on a VA reform package this weekend and made significant progress toward an agreement on legislation to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals," their offices said in a statement.

The VA has been rocked by a scandal over cover-ups of months-long waiting times for medical appointments at its clinics and hospitals across the country. In Phoenix, doctors have alleged that some 40 veterans died as their names languished on secret waiting lists while officials misrepresented wait-time data to meet targets for bonus compensation.

The controversy led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in late May.

With time winding down before Congress begins a five-week recess on Friday, pressure has been building to reach a deal on a measure aimed at eliminating long waiting lists at VA hospitals and clinics.

Negotiations on the measure had broken down last week as Sanders and Miller rolled out competing proposals with a $15 billion gap between them.

The proposal introduced by Sanders on Thursday would provide less than $25 billion in new funds for VA healthcare, with $3.3 billion offset by other savings in the department's budget.

Miller came back with a plan for $10 billion in emergency funds, with other budget needs to be settled in the fiscal 2015 VA spending bill later this year.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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Comments (5)
111Dave111 wrote:
Thank-you Independent Senator Bernie Sanders,
who heads the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and
Republican Representative Jeff Miller,
who heads the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Now let us see if Reid w/McConnell and
Boehner w/Pelosi can pass this COMPROMISE.

Beware of Stunts by valueless, ambitious incompetents.

Jul 27, 2014 9:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
morbas wrote:
This a solution (applaud applaud) from senate electorate relatively free of gerrymander selection. And amongst the most gerrymandered a Representative in the Lower House, the peoples house; the crowd roars, the people see two great gladiators.

This liberal roars. KUDOS

Jul 28, 2014 7:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
timebandit wrote:
A minority of the total number of today’s “veterans” have seen combat. Much of what is an overwhelmed VA is the govt. handling another social services group of people and their families who expect free (taxpayer) health care.

1. Fewer wars. That solves 80% of the problem. The U.S. since the end of WWII has engaged in 200 wars around the globe, many of which America started. Close some of those 1,000+ bases around the world, as well. It won’t happen, because Dow, DuPont, Honeywell, United Technologies, Boeing, GE and all the other military contractors would not just scream like bloody hell, they’d buy themselves another Congress and another president, just like they do now.

2. Fewer undereducated youth, drifters and immigrants ought sign up with the employer of last resort. That solves the remaining 20% of the problem. The U.S. has had a voluntary military since 1975. Since then, the nation has become more not less aggressive, militaristic and utterly lost in jingoistic warrior worship.

Jul 28, 2014 9:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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