Senate passes bipartisan, bicameral veterans' benefits bill

“With the passage of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, military families affected by contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, would have the healthcare they need,” said Senate Veterans Affairs Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “These families have waited for decades to get the assistance that they need and should not be made to wait any longer.

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“[And] this legislation would also allow VA to continue a number of programs that are so critical to helping veterans who have no place to call home.”

H.R. 1627 would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide more veterans — not just those suffering from mental illness — with shelter and healthcare. The measure would also make housing assistant grants more readily available for veterans.

Murray said the bill — which pays for itself and also reduces the deficit by $41 million over five years —would continue government’s commitment to help vets.

"We have lived up to that responsibility that we owe them, which is in the core of this bill."

She had hoped to pass it earlier in the day but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) requested to add language that would prevent fraudulent use of veterans’ benefits.

"I appreciate your willingness to consider the modification that would make sure the veterans who deserve these benefits get them, and they're not taken advantage of by fraud from others who don't deserve it," he said.

The bill also addressed the medical claims backlog by making the VA health claims system paperless.

The bill now goes back to the House for passage.

The Senate will resume business Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and will take up a cloture vote on Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-Mich.) Bring Jobs Home Act, S. 3364, at 2:15 p.m.