The Latest: House approves $3.9B for VA shortfall
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on emergency spending legislation for the Department of Veterans Affairs (all times local):
The House has approved a $3.9 billion emergency spending package to address a budget shortfall at the Department of Veterans Affairs that threatens medical care for thousands of veterans.
The bill provides $2.1 billion to continue funding the Veterans Choice program, which allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense. Another $1.8 billion would go to core VA health programs.
The bill was approved 414-0 Friday and now goes to the Senate.
The Choice program was put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital and is a priority of President Donald Trump. It allows veterans to receive care from outside doctors if they must wait at least 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility.
After a week of debate and protests by veterans’ groups, Congressional Republicans and Democrats say they have struck a deal for a $3.9 billion emergency spending package to fill a shortfall at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The plan sets aside $2.1 billion over six months to continue funding the Choice program, which provides federally paid medical care outside the VA and is a priority of President Donald Trump.
VA Secretary David Shulkin had warned that Choice would run out of money by mid-August without emergency help. But veterans’ groups had insisted that the emergency funding bill also include additional investments in VA infrastructure.