Senate VA panel considering next steps on suicide prevention

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will discuss the path forward on a bill to strengthen suicide prevention efforts among military veterans next week, according to the panel’s chairman.

The committee will come together for an organization meeting next Wednesday, Jan. 21, “which is when we’ll take it up,” Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonSenate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown VA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-Ga.) told The Hill.

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The House on Monday voted 403-0 to pass the legislation, which is named after a Marine veteran named Clay Hunt who took his life after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was blocked in the last Congress by then-Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

The vote came after House leadership and the heads of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee fast-tracked the legislation, which was originally supposed to be taken up by the panel in February.

Despite the House's moves, Isakson doesn’t plan to accelerate the bill’s timing in the Senate.

He said he’s already spoken about the timeline with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), the panel’s top Democrat, as well as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), who co-sponsored the legislation in the last Congress.

“Everybody’s on board, and we’ll do it next Wednesday,” Isakson said.