Congress sends VA overhaul to White House

BY Matthew Daly, Associated Press  July 31, 2014 at 9:02 PM EST
Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Congress has passed a landmark bill to help veterans avoid long waits for health care and fix other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Senate easily approved the $16.3 billion compromise measure Thursday night, a day after it was overwhelmingly passed by the House. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill provides $10 billion in emergency spending to enable veterans who can’t get prompt appointments at VA hospitals and clinics or live more than 40 miles from one of them to obtain care from a private doctor.

The legislation also includes $5 billion to hire more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff and $1.3 billion for opening 27 new VA clinics across the country.