Merkley Statement on VA Mission Act

“This vote was an extremely difficult decision.

“This bill has many positives, most notably a significant expansion of the VA caregivers program that has successfully helped many veterans stay in their homes while enabling their family members to provide the care that they need. Our veterans deserve the very best care we can provide, and when we have a popular and effective program like this one, we should enable as many veterans as possible to use that program.

“Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this bill were paired with provisions that I simply could not support. First, the bill invests billions of dollars to support private health care for veterans, but doesn’t put a single dollar into filling 30,000 vacancies in the VA health system. This bias for privatization is extremely troubling.

“In addition, this bill fundamentally changes the funding stream for the VA system, subjecting the VA’s future funding to unnecessary uncertainty and politicization. That’s unacceptable.

“Veterans rely on having a VA system that focuses specifically on the unique needs of veterans, and our veterans need that focus and expertise to be there for them today, tomorrow, and generations to come.”