Lujan Grisham Says No Session Break Without VA Reform

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham


WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. and 115 other members of Congress called on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to not let either the House or Senate go out of session until it passes vital legislation to boost veterans’ access to health care.

In a letter to both leaders, Lujan Grisham and others said that the House and Senate must agree to and pass the Veterans’ Access to Care Act, which would allow many veterans to receive some healthcare from non-VA facilities. The legislation allows those veterans to bypass the Veterans’ Affairs healthcare system while it is reformed.

Both the House and the Senate have passed their own versions of the bill in June, although there has yet to be an agreement on final language. Congress is due to break July 31. 

“It is irresponsible for us to leave Washington when far too many veterans have been waiting for months to get an appointment,” Lujan Grisham said. “These veterans served our country, and we, as their public servants, must do the same by ensuring they have access to the best healthcare possible. We should not leave Washington until it is passed.”

A copy of the signed letter is available here.

Full text of letter:

July 25, 2014

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner,

We, the undersigned Members of Congress, urge you to not let the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives go out of session prior to a successful resolution to the Conference Committee that was formed to work out a compromise between the Senate and House versions of the Veterans’ Access to Care Act, and its subsequent passage in both chambers of Congress.

The health of the veterans who have served us so bravely should not be placed on the back burner while Congress is away during the August district work period. Our veterans have served the nation with honor, and we owe it to them to waste no more time in ensuring they have access to the best health care possible. In light of recent serious complications and allegations of wrong-doing within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in addition to validated long wait times at VA medical facilities, it is extremely urgent that a fix be put into place as soon as possible.

Both the Senate and House versions would expand veterans’ ability to seek care at non-VA facilities under certain conditions, strengthen Congress’ oversight of the VA and eliminate performance-related bonuses for VA employees. We need to address the overwhelmed VA and ensure all veterans get the care they have earned through their service to our country. Our veterans deserve nothing but the very best.

Again, this issue is far too serious to wait, and we encourage a swift resolution to be found by remaining in session until a suitable compromise bill can be passed out of both chambers. Let’s put our nations’ veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms, first.