Tester questions, gets update from VA Secretary at hearing
Senator to McDonald: Keep implementing VA reform bill, improving services for veterans
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today questioned new VA Secretary Robert McDonald at a Committee hearing.
The hearing was Tester’s first opportunity to question McDonald since he was confirmed as the head of the VA in July. Tester asked McDonald about his department’s progress in implementing the VA reform bill and efforts to alleviate staffing and facility shortages in Montana and nationwide.
“We passed an important bill, and it’s a first step to make the VA stronger to better serve veterans,” Tester said. “Staffing is part of it, but the other part is facilities. Where are you going to put these doctors and medical staff if you hire them? Do you have a construction plan moving forward?”
McDonald told Tester that he is pushing the VA to move more quickly to add facilities and plan for the future so the VA can serve a greater number of veterans.
Tester, in addition to inviting McDonald to visit Montana, questioned the secretary about efforts to hold VA employees more accountable and opportunities to expand Project ARCH, an initiative that allows veterans in rural areas to use non-VA health care facilities.
Tester was a key figure in approving the VA reform bill in July. He was a member of the conference committee that hashed out differences between the Senate and House of Representatives’ bills and has held five veterans listening sessions around Montana since June.