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Thune, Rounds Join Bipartisan Senate Plot to Thwart Trump Law and VA Restructuring

Make veterans health care more efficient? No way, say Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, who just aborted another of Donald Trump’s apparently bad ideas by joining a clump of KIMBY (Keep It in My Back Yard!) Senators in blocking an effort to restructure Veterans Affairs health care facilities.

In 2018, Senator Thune voted for the VA Mission Act, which ordered the VA to review and realign its hospitals to meet changing needs. The law called for the President to appoint and the Senate to confirm an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission to review the VA’s recommendations and propose a final plan to the President. President Biden followed that law and nominated commissioners in March. But now Senators who don’t like recommendations to close certain facilities in their states, like the Hot Springs and Fort Meade hospitals that the VA says could provide better service if consolidated into one VA hospital in Rapid City, are refusing to confirm any commission:

As Senators, we share a commitment to expanding and strengthening modern VA infrastructure in a way that upholds our obligations to America’s veterans. We believe the recommendations put forth to the AIR Commission are not reflective of that goal, and would put veterans in both rural and urban areas at a disadvantage, which is why we are announcing that this process does not have our support and will not move forward. The Commission is not necessary for our continued push to invest in VA health infrastructure, and together we remain dedicated to providing the Department with the resources and tools it needs to continue delivering quality care and earned services to veterans in 21st century facilities—now and into the future.

In 2018 Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed into law the VA MISSION Act. Among its many provisions, the law required the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to research, develop and publish a list of recommendations intended to modernize VA medical facilities and health care delivery—including through facility expansions, relocations, closures or changes in services. The law further directed those recommendations to be reviewed by a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed Commission, which would then report its views of the recommendations to the President who could end the process or present recommendations to Congress for a vote. Without the Senate’s approval of the nominees, no Commission will be established and the process as outlined by the VA MISSION Act will not move forward [West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito, press release, 2022.06.27].

Collaborators with Capito, Thune, and Rounds in this effort to thwart Trump’s law are Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Steve Daines (R-MT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Rob Portman (R-OH).

If there’s one thing that can bring Republicans and Democrats together, it’s aborting a Trump plan and making sure the federal government keeps propping up their local economies with excess spending.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-06-28 09:25

    Joe Biden is an interim or caretaker POTUS who should serve a single term.

    President Biden struggles for the approval of a majority of America’s voters hovering near 41 percent while Democratic senators are overwhelmingly favored in their own states and Republicans surf the bottom. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) are doing great jobs according to pollsters at FiveThirtyEight.

    In 2012 Heinrich defeated Republican Heather Wilson, his predecessor in Congress and today thanks to efforts led by Sen. Heinrich bison have become America’s National Mammal, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is still chugging, the Gila River is no longer in danger of being diverted, Chaco Culture National Historical Park enjoys greater protection from the extractive industry and he is leading the reform of the Mining Law of 1872. He is a smart, telegenic, pragmatic statesman in a state where a Democrat can easily keep the seat.

    Vice President Kamala Harris has yet to prove to this voter that she has the fire in the belly and although I support nearly everything Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders work for they’re simply unelectable.

    So, it is the view of this interested party that Senator Heinrich should enter the primary for the nomination as our party’s choice for President of the United States if President Biden chooses not to run.

  2. cibvet 2022-06-28 09:53

    Although it serves me well to keep both Hot Springs and Ft Meade VA’s open, logistically population wise and monetarily it makes sense to have a large hospital in Rapid City. That said, I am OK with this decision but still consider Rounds and Thune pontificating useless dirt bags.

  3. Mike Livingston 2022-06-28 10:44

    Posturing. pandering. and putting out the cheese platter for the lobby-rats to come courting.

  4. buckobear 2022-06-28 15:08

    And yet both voted against the expansion of VA benefits.

  5. P. Aitch 2022-06-28 23:05

    What? These officials thought “upgrading “ meant a new furnace. Not an efficiency exercise.

  6. Guy 2022-06-29 09:42

    Cory & Cibvet, the reasoning both Senators Thune and Rounds gave for recently voting against the PACT Act, to help sick veterans exposed to toxins, was we “couldn’t afford to fund it” because of the current “overburdened VA system”. If the current VA system is overburdened, I would say that it is due to ineffencies. Senators Thune and Rounds voted to waste our taxpayer dollars to fund this Commission only to turn around and vote against that Commission because they didn’t like the results.
    The results would have been to make the system more efficient so that we could afford to take care of veterans exposed to toxins. It appears to me that Senators Thune and Rounds want to keep the same old inefficient system in place that is not helping many veterans who suffer from serious health problems caused by their service.

  7. Guy 2022-06-29 09:49

    Buckobear, of course Senator Thune and Rounds voted against VA expansion of benefits for sick veterans exposed to toxins, because in their own official statements, “The. VA can not afford it” under the current inefficient and, in Thune’s words, “overburdened” system. An “overburdened” system that they both contine to support by voting against the realignment recommendations.

  8. Guy 2022-06-29 20:38

    I’m supporting Veteran Brian Bengs. Besides, John Thune told us when he first ran against Tom Daschle in 2004 he was ONLY going to serve 2 terms and not become a “career politician”. Well, I have to honor that by voting him out since he’s already worn out his welcome with 3 terms.

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