Lawmakers pushing to put 'Veterans first', but struggling to get a vote

Senator Isakson (R-GA) says he'd like to get the legislation passed soon, but thinks it will have to wait until the next administration and Congress.
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Bipartisan lawmakers are looking to put Veterans first. With few legislative days left on the calendar, Senators from both sides of the aisle are making a push to get a bill through that would provide wide reform in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Obviously I’m saddened and discouraged by what’s happened in recent years," said Anthony Principi, former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Years of controversy surrounding inefficiency and scandal within the Department of Veterans Affairs. So Senators from both sides of the aisle are pushing the Veterans First Act, a piece of legislation that they say would bring widespread reform to the VA. Principi says evolution for the department is crucial.

"Our nation has changed," said Principi. "The nature of disability has changed. The nature of overcoming disability has changed. So we need to change. The VA needs to change. The programs need to change."

The legislation hoping to bring the department into a new age has 44 bipartisan cosponsors. It stresses accountability in leadership, improved healthcare, addressing homelessness, and more.

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is the sponsor of the bill. He says with so many other bills jockeying for position before the election, he’s not sure it will get passed by the end of September.

"It will ultimately become the law of the land because it is a two year work in progress that we finally put to bed," said Isakson. "It’s a great piece of legislation for our Veterans."

He says the VA is at a tipping point, and this legislation could bring them in a new direction.

'It needs to be done now, but I’m afraid it’s going to take a new President and a new Congress to do it," said Isakson.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also sits on the Committee. He says most of the Senate is on board with the legislation and could get it passed, if it weren’t for bad timing.

"This Senate has spent less time in session than any Senate in 60 years, which I find despicable," said Brown. "But we have time to do it if we can get it together."

The Senators say they are confident that if they can find that floor time for the legislation it will pass easily, maybe even unanimously.

Read the original version of this article at www.graydc.com.