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Sen. Johnson votes against VA bill

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin's Ron Johnson was one of just three U-S senators to vote against a bill to improve veterans' health care. Yesterday's vote was 93-to-3 to spend $35-billion over three years to pay for outside care, lease 26 new V-A facilities, and hire hundreds of doctors and nurses.

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin voted yes.

The Republican Johnson balked at the cost. He said the Democratic majority rushed the bill through without considering the fiscal ramifications. Johnson said he agrees that veterans deserve high-quality health care, and he supported a previous bill that would have reduced patients' waiting times -- just like the current bill seeks to do, in the wake of a critical audit released Monday. It said 57,000 veterans had to wait three months or longer for their initial V-A appointments. That includes 525 at Wisconsin's V-A hospitals in Milwaukee, Madison, and Tomah.

The House unanimously voted Tuesday for a similar boost in V-A care costing much less than the Senate bill -- around $620-million dollars.

Despite the cost differences, lawmakers are confident they can send a final bill to the president by the end of this month. President Obama supported the Senate package, saying it's a top priority to give veterans the care they've earned. That was after 35 veterans died while awaiting treatment at the V-A hospital in Phoenix.