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Associated Press
July 22, 2014 - Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington. House and Senate negotiators have approved a $17 billion compromise bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and reform a program scandalized by veterans' long waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays. The action comes as the Senate is set to vote Tuesday to confirm former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new VA secretary, replacing Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson.

WASHINGTON — Congress has passed a landmark bill to help veterans avoid long waits for health care and fix other problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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The Senate easily approved the $16.3 billion compromise measure Thursday night, a day after it was overwhelmingly passed by the House. The measure now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill provides $10 billion in emergency spending to enable veterans who can't get prompt appointments at VA hospitals and clinics or live more than 40 miles from one of them to obtain care from a private doctor.

The legislation also includes $5 billion to hire more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff and $1.3 billion for opening 27 new VA clinics across the country.