WASHINGTON – Talks have resumed on congressional efforts to reform the Veterans Affairs Department after slowing to a halt earlier in the week.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., told Fox News on Friday he spoke with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in efforts to find a compromise between the House and Senate measures to fix the VA.
“The bad blood is over,” Miller told Fox News.
Both sides have put their differences aside and talks among committee staff has “re-engaged,” he said. On Thursday, Miller upset Sanders after he unilaterally scheduled a second meeting of the conference committee and only one Democrat showed up.
The argument stems from a massive and costly package meant to address the litany of problems at the VA. House and Senate lawmakers clashed over how to iron out their differences in their competing bills.
Tempers flared as House Republicans went in one direction, and the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee went in another. With the August recess looming, it remains unclear whether the two chambers will be able to pass a bill before the break.
Lawmakers are trying to figure out how to fix the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs in response to the furor over long patient wait times and falsified records covering up the delays. The talks have been bogged down over costs and how much the VA should turn to outside doctors to address the backlog.
Miller -- who also said reports that talks are on the verge of collapse are “exaggerated” -- spoke after holding his own “conference committee” meeting, which hardly any Democrats attended.
A source close to Sanders said it appears he may go for $10 billion in emergency funding for the VA though he added, “I’m sure (Sanders) would like a little more than that."
Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.