U.S. House Of Representatives Approves Highway, VA Bills

Jul 30, 2015

A short-term highway bill and a bill revamping the Department of Veterans Affairs is on its way to the Senate, as House members overwhelmingly approved both bills Wednesday.

The House voted 385-34, with one present, (H.R. 3236) on the highway bill and 256-170 (H.R. 1994) on the VA bill.

Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, French Hill, R-Little Rock, Steve Womack, R-Rogers, and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, voted yes on both bills.

According to a summary of the highway bill, the $8 billion measure would fund highway programs through Oct. 29, 2015.

The funding for the Highway Trust Fund is scheduled to run out on Friday night.

The Senate this week has been debating another transportation bill, for a six-year period. However, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Tuesday that the Senate bill would not be heard in the House due to issues involving the re-approval of the Export-Import Bank and only three of the six years in the Senate bill being paid for.

Supporters of the bank have said it provides loans to companies interested in foreign markets, while opponents have attacked the bank as corporate welfare.

House members have supported a long-term transportation bill with each year being funded.

As for the VA bill, the bill would direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop a plan to consolidate all non-VA provider programs into a new, single Veterans Choice Program to furnish hospital care and medical services at non-VA facilities for veterans in the patient enrollment system.

The bill would require each presidential budget, starting in Fiscal Year 2017, to have an appropriations account for non-VA provider programs.

According to the summary, the bill would also change existing law by repealing the 60-day limit on follow-up care and extend provider eligibility to any health care provider that meets the criteria set by the VA.