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.