WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, today voted with the Democrat-controlled Committee to pass the VA and Military Construction Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2015.
According to a Kirk press release, this year's bill addresses the ongoing VA wait list scandal by directing the VA Inspector General to conduct an internal review of the VA’s scheduling procedures, wait times, and management practices at all VA hospitals, including the five in Illinois. This bill also places a restriction on performance bonuses for some VA personnel.
"In the Appropriations Committee today, I was successful in blocking new bonuses and giving the IG the funding to get answers about these accusations. It is not acceptable to simply say that the VA is too big and too bureaucratic to change," said Kirk, who noted the additional money this year's bill will include:
- $5 million over the President's request for the VA Inspector General to conduct a nationwide review of scheduling procedures and an audit of wait times at VA hospitals, including the five Illinois VA hospitals.
- $45 million for VA Minor Construction and $125 million for non-recurring maintenance, to aid in the maintenance and care of VA facilities like those in Danville, Ill.
- Adds the following funds to address the current VA claims backlog:
- $30M to hire and train more claims processors
- $10M to expand and enhance electronic claims processing systems
- $5M for the Board of Veterans Appeals to address its backlog