Susan Walsh, Associated Press
In a rare display of unanimity, the House passed a bill Tuesday designed to reform Veteran Affairs health services, The Washington Post reported. In the wake of the VA scandal, Republicans and Democrats have been able to ignore their differences as they attempt to fix the damage done, according to the Post.
“Unlike every other scandal (both real and trumped-up) that the Obama administration has confronted,” the Post's Paul Waldman wrote, “this time demagoguery and feigned outrage gave way to — brace yourself — actual problem-solving. How could such a thing have happened?”
In a time when Congress is more inefficient than ever, Waldman continued, it is a welcome change to see politicians acting quickly and efficiently to get things done. Along with receiving a unanimous vote, the bill has been fast-tracked so it may be implemented as soon as possible.
In part, according to CBS News, this is because there is no political advantage to be gained.
"It doesn't fit a partisan divide; there's no obvious way of trying to put the political blame on Obama by withholding support from a solution — it could backfire on (Republicans)," Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Mann told CBS. "It's one of those things that can get done in this environment.”
Perhaps less cynically, politicians have also come together over this issue because it fits both of their values systems, wrote the Post's Waldman.
“Here is an area where Republicans and Democrats have fundamentally the same goal,” Waldman said. “They both want to see veterans get good health care.”
"Care for veterans is what's known as a valence issue in political science," Peter Feaver, a former Bush White House official, told NPR. "Valence issues are Mom, apple pie — things that everybody on both sides of the aisle cares for, and they just compete for who loves Mom or who loves the flag more, who cares for veterans more."
While other controversies and major events may not result in quick political change, the VA scandal in particular has lent itself to a nonpartisan solution because it has a straightforward fix, according to CBS.
"The problem with a mass shooting event like Newtown is while the particular perpetrators are responsible, there is no agreement on the broader solution or how to address it," American University history professor Allan Lichtman told CBS. "Here with respect to veterans there was bipartisan agreement that there were ways of addressing it."
Some combinations of all these factors has led to a positive, effective political response, according to the Post's Waldman, particularly the lack of political posturing and the desire to implement change.
“Combine those two factors — limits on the ability to grandstand instead of addressing the problem, and a genuine desire to solve it — and you have a rare case in which bipartisan action is possible, even in 2014,” Waldman concluded. “If only it weren’t so unusual.”
Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2
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