VA hearing moved as Senate preps action

 

A meeting of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has been delayed in preparation for movement from the full chamber on repairing the department.

Panel Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had been slated to formally introduce a bill that would grant the VA secretary new authority to fire senior executives based on job performance and allow veterans to seek treatment at private doctors’ offices.

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"The hearing was postponed in order to accommodate possible floor action on veterans issues Thursday morning," said Jeff Franks, Sanders' press secretary.

Franks also told The Hill that Sanders was currently meeting with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who unveiled his own bill to overhaul the VA’s healthcare system. That bill would issue “choice cards” to veterans so that they could seek care at any facility in a 40-mile radius.

Other lawmakers, including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), have put forward measures designed to tackle mismanagement at the troubled agency.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday said the chamber should pass Sanders’ legislation “as soon as possible.” The White House is reportedly working closely with Sanders on the measure.

There is enormous pressure on Congress to reform the VA following Friday’s resignation of Eric Shinseki, who stepped down after a pair of reports found widespread fraud at VA facilities.