Earlier this week when we heard that Sen. Bernie Sanders was going to reintroduce his legislation that had previously been blocked by Republicans and we knew that it was going to be put up or shut up time for the GOP when it came to actually doing something to fix the problems at the Veterans Administration -- rather than them just running to the cameras to complain about the latest revelations -- I didn't have much hope of anything getting done.
It appears I was wrong, and maybe, just maybe we're going to see some bipartisan legislation get passed in the Senate, and who knows, maybe the House will actually follow. I'm assuming even these cynical Republicans figured out that they can't keep going on television and screeching like a bunch of Banshees about how the VA is broken and then continue to block any real efforts at fixing the problems.
My guess is that someone did some recent polling on the issue and they figured out it's going to kill them in the midterms if they continued to obstruct as they have in the past. Sanders spoke to Rachel Maddow about the compromise in the clip above and here's more on the agreement from the HuffPo.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Thursday that they have reached a deal on bipartisan legislation aimed at reforming the veterans' health care system.
Sanders, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, outlined the framework of the forthcoming bill on the Senate floor. The proposal comes in response to reports of misconduct at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities around the country. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the health care scandal last Friday.
The bipartisan legislation would allow for the construction of 26 VA medical facilities in 18 states and provide $500 million for hiring new VA doctors and nurses. It would also allow veterans to see private doctors if they experience long wait times or live more than 40 miles from a VA facility, though that is a two-year trial project.
Other provisions include aid to veterans who can't afford to go to college under the post-9/11 GI bill, resources for victims of military sexual assault, and updated rules to ensure that spouses of veterans killed in battle can take advantage of the post-9/11 GI bill.
Sanders and McCain targeted administrative matters as well. Their bill would make it easier to fire VA staffers for wrongdoing and create an expedited process to allow those staffers to appeal. It would also establish a new presidential commission to work with the private sector to develop better technology for the VA.
Sanders said he would have preferred that the proposal went further, but given that he and McCain are "people who look at the world very differently," their compromise is a major success.
"I hope we will be back on the floor to continue the effort to deal with the many unmet needs of veterans," Sanders said. "But right now, we have a crisis, and it is imperative that we deal with that crisis." Read on...