From our News Partners at WCBD-TV:
The House has approved a compromise bill to refurbish the Veterans Affairs Department and improve veterans' health care.
The 420-5 vote Wednesday sends the bill to the Senate, where approval is expected by the end of the week.
South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford was one of the five who voted against the bill. Sanford released a statement to News 2 Wednesday night about his vote:
"I applaud what the bill did to deliver on the sacred but tainted promise the federal government has with veterans across this country. I applaud what the bill did to cut off unwarranted bonuses and enhance the system’s ability to fire people not performing for veterans, and what the bill offered in choice for veterans trapped in failed or distant medical facilities. I also applaud the additional resources the bill contained to deliver on our country’s promise to veterans. So in short, I liked each of the reforms to the VA contained in the bill - but there was a fatal flaw that I believe will have real consequences for civilian and veteran taxpayer alike.
The bill contained a new category of entitlement spending that the Congressional Budget Office projects without caps could cost $500 billion dollars over the next ten years. This number is capped in the bill, but not paid for which means the cost is born by the next generation. From a procedural standpoint, when you talk about one half a trillion dollar increase to government expenditure, I think we need more then 48 hours to consider the unintended consequences of magnifying government spending at this scale."
The $16.3 billion measure is intended to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them and make firing senior executives at the VA easier.
The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff and about $1.3 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.
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