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House passes Veterans Affairs overhaul

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Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., take the stairs to a news conference on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Monday, July 28, 2014.

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WASHINGTON — The House has approved a compromise bill to refurbish the Veterans Affairs Department and improve veterans’ health care.

The 420-5 vote Wednesday sends the bill to the Senate, where approval is expected by the end of the week.

The $16.3 billion measure is intended to help veterans avoid long waits for health care, hire more doctors and nurses to treat them and make firing senior executives at the VA easier.

The measure includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help veterans who can’t get prompt appointments with VA doctors to obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff and about $1.3 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed business executive Robert McDonald to lead the sprawling agency.

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