VA Reforms Removed From Spending Bill

Nikki Wentling - Stars & Stripes - 3/28/2018

WASHINGTON — A deal collapsed Wednesday to include multiple Department of Veterans Affairs reforms in a spending bill that Congress formulated to prevent a government shutdown.
Earlier this week, the bill was set to contain a measure to overhaul the VA Choice program, which veterans use to access private-sector medical care. A deal reached between key House and Senate lawmakers on VA oversight also included an expansion of benefits for veteran caregivers, as well as a plan to initiate a systematic review of VA infrastructure, with the intention of disposing of aging and underused facilities nationwide.

When Congress unveiled its $1.3 trillion, 2,232-page bill Wednesday evening, the VA reforms had been omitted.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., leaders on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, predicted earlier Wednesday that the reforms would not be included in the final version of the spending bill.

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