Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, released the following statement after House and Senate negotiators announced a deal to address short and long-term issues plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"I commend Chairmen Sanders and Miller for their commitment to reaching a deal that puts our veterans first and gives the VA the tools they need to address immediate challenges. More importantly, I applaud their work to build and strengthen the VA system in order to continue delivering the best care for our nation's heroes over the long-term.
"I am hopeful that Congress can move quickly to pass this agreement. And I encourage every one of my colleagues to join me in refocusing on what more Congress can be doing to help those who stand to lose the most if this bipartisan momentum does not continue.
"This deal is an important step toward addressing the many issues we know exist within the VA system, but it cannot be the final step. As transparency and accountability increase at the VA, so will the investigations and reports of additional concerns requiring even more action from the VA, the Administration and Congress.
"We have all made a promise to those who have signed up to serve and today's welcome news must be the rule here in Congress, not the exception. And as we prepare to confirm our next VA Secretary, I am hopeful that these steps will finally ignite the much-delayed reforms our veterans have been demanding and deserve."
In addition to increasing accountability, improving access to care, and helping recruit more health care professionals, the deal contains several of Senator Murray's priorities including: expanding care for survivors of military sexual trauma, an extension of an important Traumatic Brain Injury rehabilitation pilot program, and improvements to veterans education benefits.