News

Tentative agreement reached on U.S. veterans’ funding bill

Tentative agreement reached on U.S. veterans’ funding bill

Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed in his office in Burlington, Vermont on November 28, 2006. Photo: Reuters/Bryan Snyder

By Peter Cooney

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A tentative agreement has been reached by the chairmen of the U.S. Senate and House veterans committees on legislation aimed at resolving the Veterans Affairs healthcare crisis, their spokesmen said on Sunday.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who heads the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and his House counterpart, Republican Representative Jeff Miller, will outline the agreement at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, their spokesmen said.

“Miller and Sanders continued negotiations on a VA reform package this weekend and made significant progress toward an agreement on legislation to make VA more accountable and to help the department recruit more doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals,” their offices said in a statement.

The VA has been rocked by a scandal over cover-ups of months-long waiting times for medical appointments at its clinics and hospitals across the country. In Phoenix, doctors have alleged that some 40 veterans died as their names languished on secret waiting lists while officials misrepresented wait-time data to meet targets for bonus compensation.

The controversy led to the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in late May.

With time winding down before Congress begins a five-week recess on Friday, pressure has been building to reach a deal on a measure aimed at eliminating long waiting lists at VA hospitals and clinics.

Negotiations on the measure had broken down last week as Sanders and Miller rolled out competing proposals with a $15 billion gap between them.

The proposal introduced by Sanders on Thursday would provide less than $25 billion in new funds for VA healthcare, with $3.3 billion offset by other savings in the department’s budget.

Miller came back with a plan for $10 billion in emergency funds, with other budget needs to be settled in the fiscal 2015 VA spending bill later this year.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Lesbian Couple Attacked at Six Flags

amusement park

Police say two women attacked a lesbian couple from Rhode Island whom they saw kissing at Six Flags New England

in Local

Man Pulls Gun on Relative in Hadley

handcuff no hands

A Pittsfield man is under arrest after Hadley police say he pulled a gun on a relative Sunday night

in Local

Berkshire Gas Buys Stake In Western Mass Pipeline

pipeline

UIL Holding Company has announced that it is buying two-point-five percent of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline

in Local

Longmeadow Residents Raise Money For Dead Construction Worker’s Family

police lights

Longmeadow residents have launched a fundraising effort to benefit the family of a construction worker killed on the job late last week

in Local

West Nile Virus Arrives In Massachusetts, But Not In The West

mosquito

A number of mosquitoes in the eastern part of the state has tested positive for West Nile, but not west of Worcester