Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2015

Will Congress Take August Recess Before Relieving VA Health Crisis? (Video)

Harry Reid Michael P. Boggs nomination

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A few weeks ago, it would have been unthinkable that Congress would leave for August recess without sending a VA health care bill to President Barack Obama’s desk.

But Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would not rule out that possibility of gridlock over how to alleviate the crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs as House and Senate conferees continue to talk.

“I would think if the, this conference goes on much longer, I think [the House] should just take what we’ve passed in the Senate,” the Nevada Democrat said. “It was a good piece of legislation, and it passed overwhelmingly here.”

That response isn’t likely to prompt an enthusiastic response, but Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a conferee and key negotiator on the Senate-passed bill, said the contours of the disagreement had not changed much.

“It’s a little slow because we’re wrestling with this … number, and we’re trying to make some adjustments because of the concern that people have on the, you know, on the overall cost,” McCain said, referring to an ongoing disagreement about the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of proposals.

Speaking with reporters, Reid said that he has had conversations about the state of the talks this week with both Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Rob Nabors, the deputy chief of staff at the White House who has been detailed to the VA to deal with crisis response.

McCain said that any number of proposals had been floated to pare down the price tag of the package, but he resisted the idea of reducing expanded access to outside care.

“Some say, ‘do away with the 40 mile requirements.’ Some say, ‘do away with other aspects of it,’ but people like me believe that choice is the heart of the matter,” McCain said. “In other words, if you delete that, all you’re doing is throwing money … at a problem that won’t be resolved.”

“I still believe that everybody understands that we have to get this resolved before we go out on August recess,” McCain said, adding that of the broader VA scandal “this thing is a centipede and other shoes will drop.”

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  1. voltaic

    July 16, 2014
    12:44 p.m.

    As soldiers give their lives for this country GOP McCain types get ready for vacation because well, you know: “It’s a little slow because we’re wrestling with this … number, and we’re trying to make some adjustments because of the concern that people have on the, you know, on the overall cost,” McCain said

    GOP abandon vets to go on vacation. GOP abandon unemployed to go on vacation. GOP abandon immigration to go on vacation. GOP abandon Highway Trust Fund to go on vacation. The do-nothings are even exceeding their well known ability to do nothing slower…..

    • manesandtails1

      July 16, 2014
      1:37 p.m.

      You have made a great comment. I support our Troops & that includes taking care of them & their families. This Country does not do a good job of taking care of our Veterans & for that I am ashamed. Thank you for your service & I wish you the best.

  2. William Beattie

    July 16, 2014
    7:24 p.m.

    It is not the GOP that is delaying solving this problem. If the senate would pass a CLEAN bill the house would pass it overnight. The Democrats want to add amendments to funnel money to their pet projects like supporting ILLEGAL aliens and waste our tax money instead of supporting our disabled vets. Over 3 (three) BILLION to ILLEGAL aliens while the VA bureaucrats bungle their primary mission of taking care of those who defended our nation.

  3. YONATAN C

    July 16, 2014
    11:45 p.m.

    The republican and democrats have both failed the more than three million unemployed families who are still without an unemployment extension since late last December. While both political parties walked away from the issue, these millions of families were left in financial ruin and deep poverty. Over the past seven months these families have lost much of what they have ever worked for. while billions of dollars were approved for the Ukraine, and more to support illegals at the border, nothing was given to these families so desperately in need. Where is the compassion and common decency for these unemployed?

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