House and Senate negotiators unveiled a $17 billion plan Monday to address the crisis in care for veterans.
The agreement would provide $10 billion to allow veterans to be treated outside the Veterans Affairs system, if they've had trouble getting appointments within it. More than two dozen clinics would be leased around the country, with $5 billion spent to hire additional doctors, nurses and other medical personnel at the VA.
Democrats are responding to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s criticism of President Obama regarding veterans’ disability claims. Speaking Monday in Louisville at the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, McConnell said the backlog of more than 816-thousand disabled veterans who are seeking benefits is a “national disgrace.”
Kentucky’s senior Senator said the President should get involved to clear the medical claims backlog, adding “veterans should be able to count on their commander in chief.”
But the Courier-Journal reports the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly shot back at the U.S. Senate Minority Leader, saying that McConnell’s obstructionism is to blame for the problem. The group pointed out McConnell voted against a V.A. appropriations bill that included a plan to address the heavy backlog of veterans’ medical claims.
According to Congressional Quarterly, McConnell was one of six Republican Senators to vote against a House measure that included funding designed to clear the backlog.
A spokesman for McConnell says money isn’t the issue, pointing out that the V.A’s funding has increased 40% over the past four years.