The bipartisan legislation would allow some veterans to receive treatment from private doctors and also calls for the expansion of VA medical facilities throughout the country. The bill also gives the Obama administration increased firing power.
The House passed a similar bill on Tuesday, and lawmakers were hopeful the minor differences could quickly be reconciled.
Addressing the failing VA health system became a priority for Congress after reports that veterans died in a VA hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., while waiting for care. An report from the VA’s inspector general supported the reports and found widespread problems for veterans seeking medical care in facilities across the U.S.
Earlier on Wednesday FBI Director James Comey told Congress the agency opened a criminal investigation into the VA.
“I don't think this is the end of the discussion regarding the needs of veterans,” Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who helped broker the bipartisan legislation, said ahead of the vote.
The vote was 93 - 3.
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) issued a statement following the vote that said:
"The Senate just passed the Sanders-McCain VA compromise. This bipartisan legislation is a promising step toward ensuring our veterans are receiving the healthcare and benefits they've earned. But we're not done yet. I'll continue to work with Arkansas veterans and my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to implement common-sense reforms."
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