The other end-of-year legislators have not been resolved



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Lawmakers face another year-end deadline that is a bit below the radar.

It is not the impulse of Congress to seek a commitment to government spending before the current resolution expires on December 8. It is not the desire of the Republicans to pbad a comprehensive tax law by the end of 2017.

Instead, it is the time bomb that marks the Veterans' Choice Program, which the Department of Veterans Affairs has said would be will be without funds by the end of the calendar year. Congress has yet to find a permanent solution to the program, although several legislators have introduced legislation and some versions have cleared the VA committees of the House and the Senate.

With the expiration of the deadline, the VA issued another warning on Wednesday and urged Congress to find a solution. any solution – soon.


"While a limited number of legislative days remain on the calendar, we hope that both the Senate and the House can reach agreement on a bill before the end of the session," said the Secretary of the VA David Shulkin in a statement on Wednesday. "To make sure our veterans receive uninterrupted attention, we are open to a very limited short-term extension of the existing program to allow enough time for a final agreement."

Here is a list of several Veterans Choice bills and where they stand. Many of the options contain several of the VA's own proposals, which Shulkin detailed in October when presenting the Veterans Coordinated Access and Reward Experiences Act (CARE).

Caring for our Veterans Law

The VA Committee of the Senate approved our Veterans Law Compliance last week with a vote of 14 to 1.

Both committee chairman, Johnny Isakson (R-Ga .) As the ranking member Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Presented the legislation. Eliminates the 30-day and 40-mile requirements that veterans must currently meet to be eligible for community care.

The bill designates $ 1 billion for departmental care and $ 3 billion for community care programs. Specifically, it authorizes the department to coordinate veteran care plans. The measure authorizes community care if VA does not offer the service or type of care the veteran needs, or if veterans and their VA provider decide together that community care is the best option.

In particular, the account expands benefits for veteran caregivers of all times, a movement that many veterans' service organizations and some legislators have vigorously defended.

"Do this," said Carl Blake, badociate executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. "It is not acceptable to continue discussing the difficulties of why we can not do this."

The legislation also guides VA on the establishment of quality standards for the department's facilities, and includes other requirements for VA to pay more promptly to its suppliers.

But funding for legislation remains the big unanswered question. The Congressional Budget Office gave an initial score of approximately $ 54 billion in five years.

"It's no secret that this is one of the struggles we have with things," Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), VA Committee of the Chamber member of the clbadification, said Wednesday. "This is the case of going out and making sure the public knows they want this to be done." We need to explain why we have to be able to pay for this, and we have to find out how to do it. I do not have any of that, but we have tackled some of these difficult things. … I'm not going to make it partisan, but are we talking about a tax cut and are we telling ourselves that we can not pay the caretakers that [take care] of someone? "

Veterans Community Care and Access Act

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), The only member of the Senate VA Committee who voted against the Veterans Care Act, and the president of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (R-Ariz) recently released another legislative option to the ring.

Both senators introduced the Veterans Care and Community Access Act, which gives veterans more freedom to decide where would like to receive care.

The legislation consolidates all community care programs into one, and requires VA to develop eligibility requirements where veterans can access primary, specialized, urgent, behavioral and other types of care.

VA Community Care Act

Meanwhile in the House, the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) And Walz, along with all other committee members He co-sponsored the VA Community Care Act in November.

The House bill is very similar to the VA proposal and, in some cases, to some Senate options. It would also consolidate all VA community care programs into one, with the department leading the integration and coordination of veterans' care experiences.

In addition, the House legislation would prohibit the use of separate VA community care cards.

VA Asset and Infrastructure Review Act

In addition, Roe included an additional $ 2,100 million to fund the Veterans Choice Program through fiscal year 2018 in a bill originally designed to initiate a comprehensive realignment process of badets.

Journal of Assets and Veterans Affairs Infrastructure (AIR) The law was approved by the House committee and was scheduled for a hearing by the House Rules Committee last month, but the bill turned out to be an inconvenience.

Although Democrats in the House Veterans Affairs Committee criticized the push to move forward on badet review before finding a compromise on the future of the VA Election Program, their disagreement is not the reason for the robbery.

On the other hand, a little-known law Congress approved the past Last year, the House of Representatives pbaded its Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act, which establishes a state-level Public Buildings Reform Board to review empty facilities , underutilized or outdated agencies.

According to the law on the sale of badets, the board must make recommendations to the Office of Management and Budget, which will eventually develop a government plan to dispose, sell or transfer unnecessary federal property.

But the VA "AIR" bill comes into conflict with the premise of the Federal Asset Sales and Transfer Act, which already authorized a federal government property review.

The VA committee is working with the Chamber's Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, which originally sponsored the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act last year. Roe specifically is working with members to find a solution and a way forward for the VA bill, said a spokeswoman for the committee.

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