Sanders, McCain Band Together to Bring VA Bill To Floor Wednesday

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 21: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) talks with reporters after stepping off the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol November 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 52-48 to invoke the so-called 'nuclear option', voting to change Senate rules on the controversial filibuster for most presidential nominations with a simple majority vote.
National Journal
Stacy Kaper
See more stories about...
Stacy Kaper
June 11, 2014, 8:17 a.m.

Sanders, Mc­Cain Aim to Bring VA Bill To Floor Wed­nes­day

Law­makers are Try­ing to Work Through Amend­ments Be­hind the Scenes

By Stacy Kaper

The push is on to bring le­gis­la­tion that at­tempts to stop pre­vent­able vet­er­ans deaths to the floor as early as Wed­nes­day.

Sen­at­ors John Mc­Cain and Bernie Sanders said they hope to work out any re­main­ing is­sues quickly so that they can move for­ward with their bill, which fo­cuses on solv­ing the crisis at the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment by mak­ing it easi­er to fire in­com­pet­ent seni­or lead­ers and ex­pand­ing ac­cess to vet­er­ans health care bey­ond the VA.

“There’s a couple of people that still have con­cerns, and hope­fully we can get them re­solved, like today I hope. I keep hop­ing, but I hoped for that yes­ter­day, too,” said Mc­Cain, the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an who brokered the bi­par­tis­an le­gis­la­tion with Sanders.

Mc­Cain would not elab­or­ate on the re­main­ing con­cerns posed by some of his col­leagues, al­though some Re­pub­lic­ans are seek­ing tough­er ac­count­ab­il­ity meas­ures, or broad­er ac­cess to non-VA health cen­ters. But he said the goal is to work out amend­ments be­hind the scenes and in­cor­por­ate any changes to the bill be­fore it is brought to the floor, rather than get in­to a pro­trac­ted de­bate by vot­ing on amend­ments in­di­vidu­ally.

“We are try­ing to sat­is­fy every­one’s con­cerns so we can do it without amend­ments,” Mc­Cain said. “We are not say­ing no one can pro­pose an amend­ment, we are work­ing with people with amend­ments to see if we can’t sat­is­fy them, without hav­ing to vote on amend­ments. That’s a big dif­fer­ence.”

Mc­Cain said wheth­er the bill could be com­pleted in the Sen­ate this week would de­pend on how amend­ment re­quests were dealt with.

“It de­pends on wheth­er I can get a couple of people’s prob­lems re­solved, and I will know that bet­ter today,” he said.

Sanders, the Ver­mont In­de­pend­ent who chairs the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said he spoke with Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id Wed­nes­day morn­ing and they hope to work through any re­main­ing is­sues quickly.

“I just talked to the ma­jor­ity lead­er, and I think he wants and I want to see this bill get to the floor as soon as pos­sible,” said Sanders. “We have a crisis in the VA, and I think we owe the vet­er­ans of this coun­try the need for rap­id re­sponse.”

Sanders said giv­en the broad bi­par­tis­an sup­port for ad­dress­ing rampant prob­lems with health care ser­vices at the agency, he did not an­ti­cip­ate ma­jor hurdles. But he noted any one mem­ber can slow things down.

“There may be [is­sues], but we are work­ing on it,” he said. “You are in an in­sti­tu­tion with 100 people, and any­one can ob­ject to any­thing, so you nev­er know, but I would hope that we could get it to the floor today,” he said.

A Demo­crat­ic lead­er­ship aide said that it might take un­til Thursday to work out an agree­ment on amend­ments and bring the bill to the floor, but that Sen­ate ac­tion was ex­pec­ted this week. The goal is to get a fi­nal ver­sion to the pres­id­ent’s desk be­fore law­makers leave town for the Fourth of Ju­ly re­cess.

What We're Following See More »
SOCIAL ISSUES ROIL CONGRESS AGAIN
LGBT Amendment Sinks Energy and Water Approps
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

The House voted down the otherwise uncontroversial Energy and Water appropriations bill Thursday after Democrats succeeded in attaching an amendment affirming LGBT job discrimination protections for military contractors. More than 40 Republicans supported the amendment, but when it came to vote on the bill, 130 Republicans joined all but six Democrats to sink the bill. Speaker Paul Ryan said Democrats voting against the bill after securing the amendment shows their intention was to scuttle the process. Democrats, however, blamed other so-called poison-pill amendments for their votes against the bill. Nonetheless, Ryan said he intends to continue the appropriations process.

AKNOWLEDGING THE INEVITABLE
UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Source:
SCREENING DELAYS
70,000 Have Missed American Airlines Flights This Year
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Airport screening delays have caused more than 70,000 American Airlines customers and 40,000 checked bags to miss their flights this year, an executive for the airline told a U.S. congressional subcommittee on Thursday. A shortage of staff and a surge in air travelers have created a nightmare scenario for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), with airport wait times in places like Chicago stretching beyond two hours."

Source:
AP KEEPING COUNT
Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Source:
THE QUESTION
What Did Sen. Cotton Say About Harry Reid?
4 hours ago
THE ANSWER

That the minority leader curses the Senate with his "cancerous leadership." After Reid tried to halt a defense bill, Cotton took to the floor and blasted Reid, adding, "As a junior senator, I preside over the Senate. I usually do in the morning, which means I'm forced to listen to the bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings of the Minority Leader. Normally, like other Americans, I ignore them."

Source:
×