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President Obama signs $16.3 billion VA bill, 27 new facilities coming to U.S.

"In a dysfunctional Congress, I’m glad we accomplished something significant for veterans," notes Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
By Matt Bradwell   |   Aug. 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM   |   Comments

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FORT BELVOIR, Va., Aug. 7 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama signed into law a bill aimed at reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs by providing emergency funding for the troubled system, allowing veterans to seek private care to avoid long wait times, and increasing transparency within its now famously dysfunctional bureaucracy.

"I want to be clear about something: this will not and cannot be the end of our effort," President Obama said from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on Thursday.

"Implementing this law will take time. It is going to require focus on the part of all of us. And even as we focus on the urgent reforms we need at the VA right now, particularly around wait lists and healthcare system, we can't lose sight of our long term goals for our service members and our veterans."

The $16.3 billion in emergency funding allots $10 billion for veterans unable to seek timely care to visit private doctors, $5 billion to hire additional VA doctors and $1.3 billion to build 27 new VA facilities across the U.S.

Despite the seemingly immovable stalemate between the White House's attempts to advance its policies and congressional Republicans' consistent obstruction, the VA reform legislation passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming majorities.

"In a dysfunctional Congress, I'm glad we accomplished something significant for veterans," proclaimed co-author of the bill Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

"This legislation will go a long way toward ending unacceptably long waiting times for veterans."

The bill also puts into place formal protections for VA employees seeking to expose future administrative failures.

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