WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the Senate to re-vote on the veterans' healthcare bill could happen as early as today.
"We won't know for sure until we talk at lunch," said Tester, noting the policy lunches that lawmakers have.
He went on to explain that everything is still "in flux," even when it comes to Sen. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) amendment. Toomey falsely claimed that the Democrats added in provisions that have nothing to do with veterans' healthcare after the earlier vote.
Republicans supported the bill weeks ago as it stands and it passed by 84-14 votes. It wasn't until Toomey lobbied the other Republican members that 25 pulled their support of the bill.
"I just want to say one thing to correct the record. There's not one thing that's changed in this bill, with the exception of one line that was taken out of this bill that allowed the VA to buy out provider contracts. That line was taken out because it was a revenue-raiser," Tester told PBS News on Monday. "And there is nothing else that was changed in this bill since we voted on it on June 16, and it passed with 84 votes. So I want to be clear with that. And I will sit down with anybody that wants to go through this bill line by line and prove that."
He went on to say that Toomey's ploy is nothing more than a final hurrah, "that says, hey, I'm going to be leaving this place, and I want to control the appropriations process." The GOP members complain that the funding is mandatory vs. discretionary.
"Well, there is. There's mandatory funding to take care of our veterans. That means it's mandatory funding to take care of our veterans," said Tester.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis Richard McDonough told Tester that passing Toomey's amendment would be "rationing care" to the veterans that need it.
"Hopefully he doesn't decline that opportunity," to support the veterans' bill with or without his amendment, Tester told Raw Story.