Senate panel adopts House VA firing measure

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved language, already passed by the House, that would expedite firings at the Veterans Affairs Department amid allegations hospital mismanagement led to patient deaths.

The VA has been wracked by reports that hospital administrators have been hiding long delays on giving medical care to veterans by putting them on secret waiting lists.

The committee's ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) blasted President Obama over the scandal Thursday.

“During his 2008 presidential campaign, then Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE affirmed that, quote, ‘in an Obama administration, the VA will provide benefits and care that will be accessible, high-quality, reliable, responsive and fair, year after year,’ end quote,” Shelby said.

“Let me be clear: This kind of reported misconduct at the VA is unforgivable. It is unacceptable," he added. "And, it is just plain wrong.”

The House on Wednesday approved a bill by a 390-33 vote that would give the VA secretary new powers to fire or demote senior executives at the department. 

Senate appropriators adopted an amendment sponsored by Sens. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-Kan.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuProject Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible CNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' MORE (D-La.) that puts the language of the House bill into the VA’s 2015 spending bill.

The only objection to the language came from Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterWith vote against Brownback, Democrats abandon religious freedom Democrat Manchin: Pence attacks prove ‘they don't want bipartisanship’ in Trump admin Tester invited the Border Patrol Union’s president to the State of the Union. What does that say to Dreamers?   MORE (D-Mont.) who worried it did not have enough due process provisions. He said the bill could make it hard for the VA to attract high-quality managers.

The bill also freezes bonuses for senior executives, until an inspector general’s report on the waiting lists is completed, and the VA produces an action plan to address the issue. The bill provides $5 million for the investigation.

The spending bill was reported out of the panel on Thursday on a 30-0 vote.