Sanders proposes expanded Veterans Affairs services, $62B to rebuild infrastructure

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.), one of the top Democratic presidential hopefuls, is proposing a plan to expand Veterans Affairs services and modernize facilities, according to an agenda he released Monday. 

Sanders pledges to fill 50,000 job vacancies at the VA in his first year in office and ensure that those with military service in every state and territory have access to full health care services. 

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The push for expanded health care access includes a plan to “greatly expand access” to mental health and suicide prevention services.

He also proposes investing $62 billion in funding for VA infrastructure to repair and modernize facilities. 

The agenda also includes a plan to pledge to “support VA employees” by enforcing strong whistleblower protection, ending anti-union “attacks” and offering “other incentives that reward high-quality work” such as reasonable staffing ratios and compensation competitive with the private sector. 

He says the plan builds on his work as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee from 2013 to 2015, when he authored a bill with late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Cindy McCain ‘disappointed’ McGrath used image of John McCain in ad attacking McConnell Report that Bush won’t support Trump reelection ‘completely made up,’ spokesman says MORE (R-Ariz.) that authorized 27 new medical facilities and provided $5 billion to hire medical staff for the increasing number of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The campaign on Monday released a “Keeping Our Promise” video along with an agenda touting Sanders’s bipartisan record. 

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“As a nation, we have a moral obligation to provide the best quality care to those who put their lives on the line to defend us,” Sanders said in a statement. “Just as planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war, so is taking care of the men and women who we sent off to fight the wars.”

Sanders’s plan was released a week after fellow leading 2020 progressive candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) announced her plan aimed at addressing veteran suicide rates and mental health.

Sanders has been consistently polling near the top of the Democratic field. In a RealClearPolitics average of polls, he is in third place with 17.6 percent of the vote.

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