Brown Statement on Bipartisan Agreement to Expand VA Health Care Services, Increase Accountability Among VA Officials

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee – released the following statement in reaction to the bipartisan agreement reached between U.S. Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) regarding a pathway forward for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):

“This bipartisan agreement sends a strong message that taking care of our nations veterans should rise above partisan gamesmanship. Our nation’s veterans deserve the highest quality of care possible and a VA that works as a partner in achieving better health. I look forward to working with both Senators Sanders and McCain to pass this legislation.”

As the only Ohio Senator to serve a full term on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Brown has introduced a package of key legislative proposals aimed at addressing issues facing Ohio veterans. Last week Brown toured the state to build support for his Significant Event Tracker (SET) Act, legislation that would ensure that unit commanders document events that individual service members are exposed to which might later be connected to PTS, mTBI, or other injuries.

In response to the disability claims backlog, Brown has helped secure record funds and staffing for the VA to combat the backlog. In November 2013, Brown announced that key provisions of his Veterans Services Outreach (VSO) Act passed the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. The Act would require the VA to notify veterans filing claims electronically that they can receive help and important time-saving information that could significantly reduce their wait time.  In August, Brown announced that he would also work to pass the Claims Processing Improvement Act of 2013, legislation that would hold the VA accountable by requiring it to publically report information on both its projected monthly goals and actual production so that Congress and the public knows if the VA is working toward eliminating its backlog. The bill would also establish a task force to hire and train claims processors, and develop tactics to attack and eliminate the backlog.

In December 2013, Brown announced his support for the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act, legislation that would improve homelessness prevention programs and increase the availability of transitional housing for veterans.

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