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October 10, 2015

VA Talks Collapse (Updated) (Video)

Sanders (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sanders (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:08 p.m.  | Talks on a fix for the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care crisis have collapsed, after the lead Senate Democratic negotiator accused the top House GOP negotiator of a “take-it-or-leave-it gambit.”

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., has signaled he has abandoned talks after calling a noon meeting of the conference committee in an effort to ram a GOP plan through.

Sanders told CQ Roll Call he did not plan to attend the noon conference meeting called by Miller.

“It’s not a conference. A conference is when two sides agree to meet. This was decided at 10 last night by the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs,” Sanders said, adding he would be prepared to talk with Miller over the weekend.

After Sanders and Senate Democrats opted not to go, Boehner sent out a statement blasting them.

“In the wake of the shocking scandal at the Veterans Administration, the House passed a bipartisan VA reform and accountability bill, and we’re ready to complete work on an agreement the president can sign. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats refused to even show up and discuss bipartisan solutions, preferring instead to talk behind closed doors. That is shameful. If President Obama cares about America’s veterans, he needs to pick up his phone out in California and tell Senate Democrats to get to work.”

Sanders blasted the move in an earlier statement of his own.

“Instead of working constructively toward a compromise, Miller unilaterally called a ‘conference committee meeting’ to unveil his take-it-or-leave-it gambit,” Sanders said in the release. “This is a sad indication that the House leadership is not serious about negotiations.  We don’t need more speeches and posturing. We need serious negotiations — 24/7 if necessary — to resolve our differences in order to pass critical legislation.”

On the Senate floor, Sanders said Miller’s move was a low point in the talks.

“This is a proposal that nobody on our side has seen,” Sanders said. “My understanding is that he then wants to take this to the House on Monday and [hold] a vote.”

“Any sixth grader in a school in the United States understands that this is not negotiation, this is not what democracy is about,” Sanders continued.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has also been involved in the talks, agreed that negotiations are in a difficult period, but suggested Sanders go to the noon meeting prepared to negotiate in calm fashion.

“I hope we could go to this conference at noon today and listen to the various proposals,” McCain said in an effort to save the talks.

Sanders asked McCain to sit down with Miller and the ranking members to work out a deal.

“I’d be more than glad to do that,” McCain said, adding he hoped agreement could be reached Thursday.

Comments (60)

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  1. Packard27

    July 24, 2014
    2:58 p.m.

    If only the systemic VA scandal were an isolated event. If only. Instead we have individual scandals related to both incompetency and corruption at the IRS, the NSA, the CIA, the Secret Service, the Dept. of Justice, Homeland Security, Dept. of State, Immigration, and most recently CDC.

    Is there any part of this entire federal government that works anymore? It is as if we are witnessing a broken inner city government model (e.g. Detroit, Newark, New Orleans, Washington DC) being applied at the federal level.


    • Malcolm Kantzler

      July 24, 2014
      4:17 p.m.

      The government is flawed at its very heart: the two-party system. It is built upon money, serving special interests, the most dangerous of which is the political parties themselves. Government is no longer a public-service trust. It is a self-service career institution, dedicated to self-perpetuation and fueled by special interest money driving a party-perpetuating election system that guarantees the growth of extremism, gridlock and failure.

      • JerzeyGeorge

        July 24, 2014
        5:45 p.m.

        Not sure what this means,
        ” Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court. “

        • Malcolm Kantzler

          July 24, 2014
          11:22 p.m.

          I am referring to the five justices who voted for corporate
          “personhood” in both the Citizens and Hobby Lobby cases, all five of whom were appointed by conservative-Republican presidents.

          • Packard Day

            July 25, 2014
            9:22 a.m.

            And your astute observation of SCOTUS has something to do with the widespread incompetence (and/or corruption?) currently witnessed in our federal government because…?

          • Malcolm Kantzler

            July 25, 2014
            1:37 p.m.

            SCOTUS is a vital part of government, and the GOP appointed majority has corrupted the Court by ruling according to their politics, not according to the dictates of democracy, which is what the Declaration and the Constitution are all about: “We the PEOPLE…”

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 25, 2014
            2:56 p.m.

            When they upheld the unconstitutional ACA was that according to politics ?

          • Malcolm Kantzler

            July 25, 2014
            3:04 p.m.

            Where in the Constitution do YOU see a prohibition against a nationwide healthcare standard?

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 26, 2014
            7:13 a.m.

            I could just say it was bait and switch by the Democrats who controlled congress at the time, however;
            It violate’s the origination clause as the court held that it is indeed a Tax. That would mean as a spending bill it would have to originate in the house, it did not.
            It was introduced by Harry Reid in 2009 as the “Senate Health Care bill “. This monstrosity was crafted into a senate amendment that was attached to a house bill
            “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009”.

            That being said it was ALL POLITICS and had nothing to do with government interest in public welfare.

          • Malcolm Kantzler

            July 26, 2014
            1:22 p.m.

            The “Origination Clause” speaks to raising revenue, meaning that bills which will tax or apply a fee for the purpose of raising funds for government operation or discretion must originate in the House. The ACA is NOT a revenue or tax bill, and whether other bills which require funding in other means must be House originated is still an issue for debate. The Court’s interpretation was actually focused solely upon the “individual mandate” portion of the act.

            And further, S.1728 (Home Ownership Act) is a moot issue since it died in committee, was never enacted, the House passing their own bill w/o amendment (H.R. 3590) by a UNANIMOUS vote, so you know there was no ACA application there. And the Supreme Court still has NEVER reviewed the constitutionality of the ACA as a “bill for raising revenue” under the Origination Clause, and no petition for a rehearing was made.

            Your reference to the Senate bill as a “monstrosity” indicates your bias is deeply rooted, blinding you to the dire need that exists for a solution that makes healthcare a service for the people more than it is a source of profit for industry, which is a real situation that makes your claim that efforts behind the ACA are “ALL POLITICS,” taking you far beyond the simple truth that, where legislation is concerned, politics is always in the mix, far from being the objective.

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 26, 2014
            1:47 p.m.

            ” The Senate began work on its own proposals while the House was still working on the Affordable Health Care for America Act. Instead, the Senate took up H.R. 3590, a bill regarding housing tax breaks for service members. As the United States Constitution requires all revenue-related bills to originate in the House, the Senate took up this bill since it was first passed by the House as a revenue-related modification to the Internal Revenue Code. The bill was then used as the Senate’s vehicle for their healthcare reform proposal, completely revising the content of the bill. ”

            They stripped the bill and inserted the language to get it passed….. This bill passed the People’s House of Representatives with No Republican support as H.R. 3590. Barely receiving the minimum to pass and with 34 Democrats voting against it…..telling almost 1/2 of the country that it’s elected representatives had no view….Even Social Security and Medicare had Republican support…This had none and shows the complete lack of respect the Progressive’s have for this Country.

          • Malcolm Kantzler

            July 26, 2014
            4:12 p.m.

            The Senate’s amendment was SA 2786, an amendment proposed by Senate Leader Reid to H.R. 3590. When H.R. 3590 passed, unanimously, it had nothing to do with healthcare.

            Again, claiming progressives have a complete lack of respect for the country is a biased and uninformed statement. Progressives tend to be constitutionalists and abhor the political manipulations that Republicans, and to a lessor extent, the majority-party Democrats have become so expert at.

            What do you think a progressive is? It certainly isn’t someone who would see the country shot down in flames for the sake of making a president fail, which is the quoted purpose of the Republican party, as stated by its Senate Majority Leader McConnell.

            And a progressive is certainly not in favor of ditching 90 percent of the budget cuts it “demands” because it won’t give 10 percent to growth, as virtually every Republican candidate for president in the last primary vowed. These voiced intents by party leaders, along with the laundry list of inane opinions of Republican candidates and elected officials on everything from Tod Akin’s “legitimate rape” to George (Iraq) Bush’s, “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator,” are not only indicative of a complete lack of respect for the country, but for law and women, as well.

            And, with this, my friend, we are through—life is too short and I’ve better things to do.

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 27, 2014
            12:03 p.m.

            And You excuse You’re progressive movement from lies, You use a taken out of context McConnell interview to spread the lies…. And You blindly excuse your own,
            ideologic fool…. I am a Democrat btw who will have to clean up the mess you progressive are making of the party…Bye…

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 25, 2014
            9:47 a.m.

            Hmmm up to that sentence I agree with the whole post. We are going to have to agree to disagree on that response as I believe the Hobby decision and Citizens are correct as it allow’s corporation the same footing and advocacy as Unions when it comes to political activities. I am against paying for someone else’s birth control, I have no business knowing what goes on in someone bedroom,
            conversely I shouldn’t have to pay for it either.

          • Malcolm Kantzler

            July 25, 2014
            1:36 p.m.

            The Court’s majority removed controls on influence of money for both unions and corporations, and it applied rights of persons to both. Neither corporations nor unions have any business involving themselves within the affairs of family privacy, or dictating what family or medical services should or should not be provided to their members/employees; nor should government.

            But there is no basis for comparison of the power and influence of the resources of corporations vs. unions, nor that the power of unions is nearly as much a direct extension of the political will of the corporate boards and private owners when allowed to apply to elections or the application of law.

            The rulings also are a direct attack on political equality, since every American has the right to speak and to vote, but only a select few can multiply the effect of those rights many, many times for their own beliefs through the control they have over the vast resources of their business organizations. And when rulings attack political equality, or political liberty, or popular sovereignty (the foundations that must exist without prejudice in a democracy), they attack democracy, ergo, are contrary to the nation’s Charters.

            But Republicans of this generation have often voiced goals and beliefs that are not democratic, any more democratic than is gerrymandering, which is a cross both parties bear, but far more so the Republicans, because gerrymandering is one of the tools of minority equalization—an effort to defeat the democratic will of the majority, beyond the protections of the Constitution.

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 26, 2014
            8:02 a.m.

            ” gives corporations the authority to use consumer dollars for its political agenda. ”
            That’s exactly what a Union does with my dues.
            Corporations sell a product people buy to pay themselves, expand, reward shareholders.
            Union’s sell their own product for dues which they pay themselves (The actual Union Organization not members), always trying to expand, reward their own shareholders (security funds etc.).
            “because gerrymandering is another of the tools of minority equalization—an effort to defeat the democratic will of the majority,”

            Now You are getting ridiculous You purport that gerrymandering is mainly a Republican tool….
            How did Hillary Clinton become Senator from NY ?
            So in what sense is the Majority in the House of Representative’s working to defeat the democratic will of the majority that You speak of ?
            Who is really protecting the constitution here ?
            So what You are saying is that the Republicans gerrymandered the Nation while the Democrat’s held the house so they could take the house and lock everything up …….And the Democrats has nothing to do with this ?….

          • Malcolm Kantzler

            July 26, 2014
            1:22 p.m.

            It’s ridiculous to compare consumer dollars to dues. Consumers buy a product or service. Union members pay dues knowing that lobbying is a part of their union’s responsibility to protect their legal rights in the workplace. And “workplace” is the key here, because while unions are dedicated to workplace issues, with these rulings in Citizens and Hobby Lobby, the Court majority has used its politics to carry the power and influence corporations can exercise over their employees far beyond the time clock, and if you can’t see that, there’s little sense in going further with you.

            I said both parties bear the cross of gerrymandering. Do you not see that, as well? But it is inarguable that Republicans have distorted the district maps far more than Democrats, but that makes sense, too, because Republicans are the minority party.

          • JerzeyGeorge

            July 26, 2014
            2:16 p.m.

            And I am not buying a service from the union with My Dues ? C’mon, I pay for My representative to negotiate contracts and resolve dispute’s. Not only does the Union get paid by the dues but also they get a cut of any pension agreements (Administration Costs) , They also get a cut of the brokered Health care agreement’s including prescription and Dental etc… They are a small business also and has to maintain a payroll, legal cost’s , conduct strike’s, this is from the private union pov.
            State and Federal Union’s on the other hand seemed to be exempt from this…
            If You give one entity such as Unions the right You have allow corporations also, as they both are run by President’s and Boards. It’s the content of the message that decides it for people. Witness the Wisconsin fight with Gov Walker the Union’s both local and nationwide poured millions into the recall effort., It failed as it had no merit. When corporations are attacked by the media they have the right to respond also in the political arena as well. If You can’t see that OK..On a final note if the Republicans were so all fired good at gerrymandering why are they the minority party ? You have to win to redistrict so are You saying that the message is starting to take effect and they are winning more ?

    • Darrell

      July 25, 2014
      10:32 a.m.

      And on top of that the majority of the American citizens SEEM to WANT EVEN MORE CENTRAL GOV’T! Amazing the naivity of the American Voter!

  2. 1plumberswife

    July 24, 2014
    11:05 p.m.

    The writer of this didn’t even try to appear to include the opinions of the Chairman from Florida, it is written completely from the perspective of Senator Sanders.

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