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.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”