Senate, House Conference Panel Makes Small Advances On VA Bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the Senate will accept some offset on the cost of the package, a demand from the House. But the negotiations still have other issues to resolve. Meanwhile, the nominee to lead the agency prepares to testify before the Senate, and a new report examines problems at the VA.

Politico: Progress On VA Reform Deal
Members of a committee tasked with reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs have moved slightly closer toward closing a deal, even as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted the committee's failure. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a co-chairman of the House and Senate VA conference committee, said Monday the panel’s 14 Senate-members have agreed to offset portions of the reform legislation. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated overhauling the agency could cost around $30 million (French, 7/21).

The Associated Press: VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress
President Barack Obama's choice to lead the beleaguered Veterans Affairs Department is going before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee for a confirmation hearing as Congress considers a bill to help the next VA leader do his job. Based on comments by lawmakers from both parties, VA nominee Robert McDonald appears headed to easy confirmation. The path for the veterans' bill is decidedly rockier (7/22).

The Associated Press: Report: Retaliation By Supervisors Common At VA
A pharmacy supervisor at the VA was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients at a hospital in Palo Alto, Calif. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital in Wilkes-Barre. Medical professionals from coast to coast have pointed out problems at the VA, only to suffer retaliation from supervisors and other high-ranking officials, according to a report Monday by a private government watchdog (Daly, 7/22).

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