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House passes Veterans Affairs overhaul, Senate poised to give final approval


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house-approves-veterans-affairs-overhaul-after-scandal-senate-poised-to-voteFox News:

The House approved a $17 billion package Wednesday aimed at fixing the scandal-scarred Department of Veterans Affairs, boosting the chances that Congress can finalize the bipartisan legislation before lawmakers leave for the August recess.


Fiscal conservatives remain concerned about the cost of the package and its impact on the deficit. But the bill nevertheless passed on a strong 420-5 vote Wednesday afternoon in the House.


The Senate is expected to take up the same legislation soon, as lawmakers rush to complete their work before leaving town this weekend for a five-week recess.


Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, called the plan an "honest solution to an urgent problem," and urged the Senate to follow suit for the sake of fixing a "broken bureaucracy."


The measure is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them, and make it easier to fire senior executives at the Veterans Affairs Department.


The House vote came just one day after the Senate confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to lead the sprawling agency, which provides health care to nearly 9 million enrolled veterans and disability compensation to nearly 4 million veterans.


McDonald will replace Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who took over in May after Eric Shinseki resigned amid a growing uproar over reports of long veterans' waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays. McDonald has pledged to transform the VA and promised that "systematic failures" must be addressed.


In order to be successful, McDonald "will need to take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department's culture of complacency with a climate of accountability," Miller said.



Well, we'll see...

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