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 Sports

Ray Rice’s appeal hearing set for early November

Fresh
rayrice

The hearing on the appeal of his indefinite suspension by the NFL has tentatively been set for Nov. 5 and 6.

in Sports

Wednesday’s Sports Minute

Fresh
bruins

In addition to the Giants win over the Royals in game 1 of the World Series, here is a look…

in Entertainment

Toys ‘R’ Us pulls ‘Breaking Bad’ dolls after protest

Fresh
breaking

If a Walter White action figure was on your Christmas list, it just got more difficult to find.

in Entertainment

Renee Zellweger: Furor over ‘peaceful’ face is ‘silly’

Fresh
zellweger

The "Bridget Jones's Diary" star says her "new face" is a result of a massive lifestyle change.

in National

U.S. to funnel travelers from Ebola-hit regions through 5 airports

Fresh
ebola

Travelers from three countries in West Africa will undergo enhanced screening for the virus.