With dozens missing, VA bills clear the House

The House passed two bills on Tuesday to extend various authorities of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in votes that were held despite the absence of several dozen members.

More than 20 members were in South Africa to attend the memorial services of Nelson Mandela, while many others were delayed by snow in Washington, D.C.

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In a 346-1 vote, members passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Lease Authorization Act, H.R. 3521. This bill authorizes the lease of 27 major medical facilities by the VA. The only "no" vote came from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.).

And in a 353-0 vote, the House passed the VA Expiring Authorities Extension Act, H.R. 1402. This legislation extends the authority of VA to provide care to disabled veterans, and to participate in adaptive sports programs like the Paralympics.

In the first vote, 85 members were absent, and 79 were absent in the second vote. 

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