BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) _ Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’ll introduce legislation that will improve accountability at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The comments from the Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee follow allegations that some Veterans Administration hospitals have been providing substandard care to their patients and falsifying records.
The director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System has been placed on leave while the inspector general investigates claims that up to 40 people died while awaiting treatment in Phoenix.
Sanders said his legislation would make it easier for a secretary of veterans affairs to remove a senior executive due to poor job performance.
“In recent years, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1.5 million more veterans have entered the VA health care system,” Sanders said. “Congress must do everything possible to make certain that the VA has the financial resources and administrative accountability to provide the high-quality health care and timely access to care that our veterans earned and deserve.”
Sanders also said he’ll reintroduce broader legislation _ which Senate Republicans blocked last winter _ to improve veterans’ health care, education, job-training and other benefits.
During debate on Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, complained about the $21 billion, 10-year cost of the comprehensive bill.
During an exchange with Rubio, Sanders said, “”If you think it’s too expensive to take care of our veterans then don’t send them to war.”