VA Reform Deal Reached
by Deacon Blues
Senators Bernie Sanders and John McCain reached agreement late this afternoon on a bipartisan VA reform measure that would provide funding for more VA facilities and providers, as well as expand access for veterans waiting for care. McCain immediately put Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Senate GOP caucus on notice that there should be no delays or filibustering in passing the measure, which has elements already supported amongst House Republicans.
We'll now see how committed the Senate Republican caucus is to dealing with veterans' health care.
On a related note, Obama's first choice to replace former Secretary Shinseki, an existing VA executive, withdrew from consideration because of fears that he couldn't be confirmed. That's what Obama gets for trying to fill the vacancy from within, instead of doing as I suggested days ago and investing the GOP in the solution by tapping a current departing or former GOP senator for the task, someone like Tom Coburn or Kay Bailey Hutchison. Coburn is a physician, and supported by McCain, and Hutchison served on the Senate VA committee. If neither of them are willing to take the two-year assignment to fix the VA, then there are former House Republicans who served on the House committee that can be tapped as well.
The key point is that Obama needs to make the GOP a partner in all solutions like these, because for all intents and purposes, Barack Obama has squandered all of his remaining political capital. Regardless of what the White House or even Harry Reid think, there needs to be a core group of key senators from both parties willing to work together and take control of major issues for the remainder of Obama's term. Such a movement will not gel until the November results are clear, but even if the GOP takes control of the Senate, Democrats control what can and cannot get done for those two years, with the caucus being able to deliver veto overrides. We've reached a point where bipartisan government from a fractured body is necessary if not critical.