About time it happened. I guess the republicans felt the heat on them from vets, what with the elections coming up.The 97-0 Senate vote to confirm McDonald comes as Congress appears poised to approve a $17 billion compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care. The bill is intended help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them, and make it easier to fire senior executives at the agency.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it was important that Congress act on the reform bill as quickly as possible to give McDonald and his team "the resources they need to ensure American veterans are getting the care we've promised them."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said McDonald "has a tough job ahead of him," but said that if he "is willing to work in a collaborative and open manner with Congress," Republicans will help McDonald fix the VA.
President Barack Obama applauded McDonald's confirmation.
But last Feb it was a different story.
(Reuters)- U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.
Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting.
Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans' programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
With Democrats pressing for passage this week, Senate Republicans, backed by their leader, MITCH MCCONNELL, attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for possible new sanctions on Iran.
"The issue of Iran sanctions ... has nothing to do with the needs of veterans," complained Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the main sponsor of the bill.
Republicans also raised budget concerns, forcing another key procedural vote that ended up killing the bill. By a vote of 56-41, the Senate failed to waive budget rules that would have allowed the bill to proceed. Sixty votes were needed and 41 of the chamber's 45 Republicans voted against the waiver.