The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sanders to Vote No on VA MISSION Act


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, issued the following statement ahead of a vote in the Senate on the VA Mission Act:

"There are parts of the VA MISSION Act that I strongly support. The expansion of the Caregivers program to veterans of all generations will help support family members who have made enormous sacrifices for their loved ones wounded in war. Raising the limits on the Education Debt Reduction Program, an effort that I helped lead, will make it easier for the VA to attract the doctors and other medical personnel they need.

"I am concerned, however, that despite some very good provisions in this bill, it continues a trend toward the slow, steady privatization of the VA. No one disagrees that veterans should be able to seek private care in cases where the VA cannot provide the specialized care they require, or when wait times for appointments are too long or when veterans might have to travel long distances for that care. The way to reduce wait times is to make sure that the VA is able to fill the more than 30,000 vacancies it currently has. This bill provides $5 billion for the Choice program. It provides nothing to fill the vacancies at the VA. That is wrong. My fear is that this bill will open the door to the draining, year after year, of much needed resources from the VA.

"I acknowledge the work done by some of my colleagues to improve this bill, but I believe it moves us too far in the direction of privatization. That is why I will vote against it."

United States Senator for Vermont

(202) 224-5141