Sen. Moran pleads for action on VA fix

Greg Nash

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) on Tuesday urged his colleagues to resolve negotiations on overhauling the Veterans Affairs Department before lawmakers leave for August recess.

“It would be terrible on the part of the United States Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives if we fail to reach an agreement to conclude this work,” Moran said during the confirmation hearing for Robert McDonald, President Obama’s pick to lead the embattled department.

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“If we can't come together on an issue related to veterans — this of all issues that we face at this point in time in the United States Senate ought to be one that we can resolve," he added.

A panel of 28 House and Senate lawmakers have been working for almost a month on legislation that would grant the VA secretary new powers to fire incompetent managers and allow veterans to seek medical treatment at non-VA providers in certain cases.

Partisan bickering over the bill has ratcheted up in the past two weeks, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) taking to the Senate floor on Monday to predict that the conference talks would fail due to Republican demands that the bill be funded with budget cuts.

Moran said he was troubled by Reid’s comments and that “we ought not let that be the case, and we ought not adjourn for an August recess in the absence of us reaching a conclusion.”

“Don't walk away from this issue,” he said, later adding that while it’s easy to criticize the VA for its “failure to our veterans, if we don't reach a conclusion on this legislation, the United States Senate is deserving of that same condemnation.”