Senate passes Kirk's record VA funding bill
The Senate voted 93-0 Tuesday to approve a bill written by 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 Appropriations bill requires the VA to give whistleblower protection to all employees. Some have been intimidated for reporting various VA system failures.
Kirk chaired a Nov. 6 hearing at Hines VA Hospital near Maywood 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.