By Martin Matishak - 06/20/14 04:02 PM EDT
House and Senate conferees picked to hammer out a deal on legislation overhauling the Veterans Affairs Department’s troubled healthcare system will convene early next week.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the group of 28 lawmakers would meeton Tuesday.
“My goal is to get this legislation onto the president’s desk as soon as we possibly can,” he said.
Both chambers this week approved motions to set up a conference committee to merge similar bills designed to increase accountability at the VA and provide veterans more options for medical care.
Lawmakers hope to report out a final version of the reform bill before July 4, according to a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee aide.
In addition to Sanders, the senators on the conference committee will be Sens. John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) named eight Republicans, including House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), to the conference panel: Doug Lamborn (Colo.), Phil Roe (Tenn.), Bill Flores (Texas), Dan Benishek (Mich.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Brad Wenstrup (Ohio) and Jackie Walorski (Ind.). All are members of the Veterans’ Affairs panel.