Kirk's VA funding bill passes Senate
The U.S. Senate voted 93-0 Tuesday to approve a bill written by U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) that will fund the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at record levels and offer new support for VA staff.
“Today the Senate put our veterans first,” Kirk said. “With $1.1 billion in funding for veterans' care above the president’s request and special protections for whistleblowers like doctors and nurses who speak up to protect our vets, I am proud we found a bipartisan path forward.”
The 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon/VA) Appropriations bill requires the VA to give whistleblower protection to all employees, some of whom have been intimidated for reporting various VA system failures.
Kirk chaired a hearing Friday at Hines VA Hospital near Maywood, Illinois, to discuss reports of doctors at Hines being threatened with disciplinary action for reporting a backlog of unread heart tests and several unnecessary surgeries.
Kirk's bill also invests in local military outposts, including $20 million for 38 new housing units at the Rock Island Arsenal and $1.9 million for a new firing range at the Illinois Army National Guard base in Sparta.