After a week of negotiations with Republican members, Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Thursday a bipartisan bill to fix the many issues plaguing the Veterans Affairs Department.
"I think all of us have been appalled by what we read about what happened in Phoenix and in other locations," the independent from Vermont said. "Every veteran in this country is entitled to high-quality medical care, and they should get that care in a timely manner."
The new bill takes aim at the scandal surrounding a Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital, where 1,700 veterans were left off official waiting lists for medical care. The legislation would give Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson further discretion in firing senior officials responsible for the backlog.
The House passed a similar bill last week. But the Senate bill differs in that it includes a provision, pushed by Sanders, that would give employees who are removed from the department some due process protections. Any employee who is fired would have one week to appeal the decision, the senator said, and the "appropriate body" will have three weeks to handle that claim. Sanders said he included the provision for fear that a future president could target senior department executives who are aligned with another party for termination.