Reid: House GOP holding up VA talks

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday accused House Republicans of impeding the negotiations over legislation to fix the troubled Veterans Affairs Department.

Lawmakers serving on a House-Senate conference committee are having “trouble” finding a deal on on legislation because of GOP objections, Reid said during a press conference without providing specifics.

“We're having a little trouble getting the House to help us complete the conference,” Reid said.. “You know ... just because we want something done when we're in conference doesn't mean it gets done.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Reid said he had spoken with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), an architect of a Senate version of the overhaul bill, and Rob Nabors, who was dispatched by President Obama to help clean up the problems at the VA, about finding a way to move the negotiations forward.

If the talks drag on much longer, Reid said the House should simply adopt the Senate’s VA bill, which the chamber passed last month in a 93-3 vote.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, slammed Reid for “purposely injecting politics into what has been a politics-free process until now.”

“Conference committee negotiations are going well, and I remain confident
we will reach an agreement soon. But the primary focus remains on getting the deal done right rather than getting it done by a certain date,” Miller said in a statement.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office last week released a new score of the Senate legislation that said the bill would cost $35 over two years and $38 billion per year starting in 2016.

The estimate was considerably lower than CBO’s “preliminary” estimate from last month that said the legislation would cost roughly $50 billion per year to implement.

— This story was updated at 6:13 p.m.