Senate OKs $16 Billion VA Deal

The Senate approved a $16 billion bill on Thursday to aid the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs, which has recently come under fire for extensive treatment delays and falsified scheduling records. $10 billion of that money will go to helping veterans seek care from non-VA healthcare providers if they have waited more than 30 days for an appointment or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA center. The other $6.3 billion will go to providing additional medical staff and emergency leases for extra space. The new VA secretary will also now be able to fire or demote senior executives for poor performance and misconduct. In an apparent rush to pass measures before their impending August recess, the Senate also passed a transportation bill on Thursday that will extend federal highway funding through May 2015.