VETERANS: Murray Remarks on Sanders-McCain Compromise

Jun 11 2014

VETERANS: Murray Remarks on Sanders-McCain Compromise

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor before voting on the Sanders-McCain legislation aimed at addressing transparency, wait times, and accountability issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Senate and will now be reconciled with legislation passed by the House of Representatives, before heading to the President for his signature.

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“This compromise is an excellent example of what Congress can do when we work together to put veterans first and work toward substantive solutions to the challenges they face. Passing this legislation is a critical step toward addressing some of the immediate accountability and transparency concerns plaguing the VA and fixing its deep-seated structural and cultural challenges.

“Each new report seems to paint a more serious and more disturbing picture of the VA’s system-wide failure to provide timely access to care for our nation’s heroes. I am especially concerned by the number of facilities that serve Washington state veterans that have been flagged for further review and investigation. The VA has promised to get to the bottom of this and I expect them to do so immediately.

“However, these new reports are not only consistent with what I hear so often from veterans and VA employees, but also with what the Inspector General and GAO have been reporting on for more than a decade.

“These are not new problems and Congress must continue to take action on them, while addressing the inevitable issues that will be uncovered as ongoing investigations and reviews are completed.

“I expect this chamber to come together, as the House did yesterday – twice, in fact – to move this bill forward – so we can work out our difference with the House and send this legislation to the President’s desk as soon as possible.

“As we all know, there are serious problems at the VA that will not be solved through legislation alone or by simply replacing the Secretary. However, I am hopeful these steps will spark long-overdue change -- from the top down -- in order to ensure our veterans are getting the care and support they expect and deserve.

“I commend the Senator from Arizona and the Senator from Vermont for their commitment to bipartisanship and putting the needs of our veterans first. This is an important compromise and I urge my colleagues to continue the bipartisan collaboration that made this bill possible.

“Let’s pass this bill quickly so we can get these reforms in place. And we must keep working to address the management, resource, and personnel shortcomings we know exist at the VA.”