Franken offers bill to reduce VA backlog
© Greg Nash

Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy MORE (D-Minn.) has reintroduced legislation to cut down the backlog for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act of 2015 would allow veterans who have backlogged claims — those pending for more than 125 days — to visit local, non-VA doctors for their initial disability exam. 

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The VA currently has more than 214,000 backlogged disability claims. The department has vowed to end the backlog by the end of 2015, though some veterans advocates are skeptical. 

Franken suggested that his legislation would help veterans who are waiting "far too long" by cutting down on wait times at VA facilities and speeding up disability diagnoses. 

"We know that our veterans' battles don't always end when they return home," Franken said in a statement. "Too many return with mental and physical disabilities incurred while protecting our freedoms.

"Our legislation would help the VA speed up the claims process that is making far too many veterans wait far too long to get help they need," he added.

The legislation would also require the VA to issue a report in approximately six months tracking the department's implementation of the legislation. The department would also have to issue an annual report tracking what disabilities from exams by local doctors were commonly being rejected by the VA. 

Rep. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzOvernight Health Care: CDC warns against using e-cigs after vaping-related deaths | Minnesota reports fourth nationwide death tied to vaping | Top Dem demands FDA chief take action | Marianne Williamson under fire over controversial health remarks Minnesota reports fourth nationwide death tied to vaping Three people shot, one hit by car at Minnesota State Fair MORE (D-Minn.), a former soldier, is also reintroducing companion legislation in the House. 

"I recognize this problem was not created, nor will it be solved, overnight, but we can and must do better," he said. "Our bipartisan legislation will enhance the VA's current efforts to break the backlog by helping them become more efficient, and will help veterans get the benefits-and the care-they deserve quicker."

The VA has been under a congressional microscope after allegations surfaced last year at a Phoenix facility that VA officials had created a secret list to hide the wait times of veterans seeking medical treatment. 

Walz and Franken introduced similar legislation in 2013.