Senate Adopts Brown-Toomey-Murray-Sanders-Casey-Coons Amendment to Address Shortage of Beds, Staffing for Severely Disabled Veterans

WASHINGTON, May 19 – A bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to ensure that severely disabled veterans receive quality care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) passed today as an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development/Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations package being considered in the Senate this week. The amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Was.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

From 1996 until 2008, the VA was required to report on the number of beds and employees assigned to care for severely disabled veterans. That requirement expired in 2008. Veterans affected include patients with spinal cord injuries or disorders, blindness, amputations, and mental disorders. The Appropriate Care for Disabled Veterans Act of 2016 would reinstate this reporting requirement, providing the Congressional oversight necessary to best ensure that the VA has the resources needed to meet the demand.

“Severely disabled veterans face unique medical challenges and the VA must maintain the resources necessary to serve their needs,” Brown said. “When a medical center is understaffed, employees are quickly overwhelmed and veterans’ health pays the price. That’s why I’ve joined with Senator Toomey in this bipartisan effort to ensure the VA has the capacity to fulfill our nation’s promise to our veterans, and provide the care they need and deserve.”

“It is one of the top priorities of the VA to ensure we have both the beds and the medical staff to treat for our most critically disabled veterans,” said Toomey. “My bill with Senator Brown will help ensure the VA is delivering the right level care where and when it is needed.  Our bipartisan legislation will present a fuller picture of the capability of the VA to provide care to today’s severely disabled veterans and will provide proper oversight and accountability to meet our veterans’ needs more effectively.”

"As a nation, we have a moral obligation to provide the best quality care to those who have put their lives on the line to defend us. This bipartisan legislation will increase oversight and accountability so that men and women who were severely injured while serving our country get the care they need, when they need it, Sanders said. "While we can disagree about when to go to war, there should never be a debate whether we fulfill the promises made to the men and women who served this country.” 

“Our country must uphold its promise to take care of the men and women who served, and this legislation moves us closer to that goal,” Murray said. “I’m proud to support reinstating this commonsense requirement to ensure VA can care for some of our most seriously disabled veterans as part of our broader push for policies that truly honor those who have served our country.”

“Our nation has a basic and sacred obligation to our veterans to ensure they receive the care they need,” Casey said. “This legislation will provide a measure of accountability and transparency at the VA so that Congress can provide oversight in regards to staffing levels for those veterans with a disability.”

“This bill will allow Congress to ensure the VA has the resources and personnel required to deliver first-rate care for severely disabled veterans," said Senator Coons. "We have a sacred duty as Americans to support all who have served.  This bill will help us keep this pledge to those wounded in the line of duty and I am proud to support it.”

The Paralyzed Veterans of American have made the Disabled Veterans Capacity Act of 2016 their top legislative priority for this Congress. Additionally, Blinded Veterans Association , Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars all support this legislation. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10) and Sean Maloney (D-NY-18).