* Senators Bernie Sanders and John McCain have reached a compromise on a bill to address some of the problems raised by the V.A. scandal:
In the short run, the agreement would authorize veterans to seek care from private doctors, paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. That provision would apply to veterans who are either stuck on a waiting list or who live 40 miles or more from one of the department’s medical centers. It also would authorize the department to lease 26 major medical facilities in 18 states and Puerto Rico to try to shrink the backlog.
It would provide $500 million to bolster the Veteran Affairs Department’s ability to recruit and retain doctors. And the deal includes a measure to improve the delivery of care to veterans who were victims of sexual assault while in the military.
Even if there are a few extraneous provisions thrown in (as there inevitably are), these seems like a genuine, substantive response to the problems. It’ll be interesting to see who decides to oppose it.
* The New York Times obtained an army report saying BoweBergdahl had a longstanding habit of wandering off, suggesting that the fact that he left his base doesn’t necessarily mean he was deserting. And it also calls into question some of the allegations that have been floating around:
… the report is said to contain no mention of Sergeant Bergdahl having left behind a letter in his tent that explicitly said he was deserting and explaining his disillusionment, as a retired senior military official briefed on the investigation at the time told The New York Times this week. …
The report is also said to contain no mention of any alleged intercepts of radio or cellphone traffic indicating that Sergeant Bergdahl was asking villagers if anyone spoke English and trying to get in touch with the Taliban, as two former squadmates told CNN this week in separate interviews that they remembered hearing about from a translator who received the report.
* Republicans like Rick Perry are now floating the theory that the administration arranged for Bowe Bergdahl’s release to distract from the V.A. scandal. Steve Benen has an explanation for why they end up saying these kinds of things:
The idea of simply evaluating developments on their merits is too difficult. It’s easier to see just about everything through a “there must be a conspiracy in here somewhere” lens. In the immortal words of Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), if Democrats believe Republicans are on a witch hunt, “that must mean there is a witch somewhere.”
Wait, wasn’t the V.A. scandal created in order to distract from Benghazi? It’s so hard to keep this stuff straight.
* Brian Beutler has a good piece unpacking this tendency to overreach. A taste:
The problem, as is so often the case, is that the words and deeds that energize the political right strike other people as vicious and unsupportable.
* Indeed, even GOP Rep. Raul Labrador is criticizing his colleagues for going crazy on this issue.
* Kevin Drum has a useful rundown of five things in mind when listening to debates about Bergdahl.
* Fernando Espuelas, a longtime skeptic of Obama executive action on immigration reform, says it’s time to admit House Republicans won’t act and that it’s now on the President to a solve a problem Republicans simply will not:
Obama, who like President Reagan in the 1980s, was pushing for a bipartisan bill, will now get what the Republican most feared – the credit for resolving a problem that the dysfunctional GOP House could not manage. Republicans will also get another bitter prize: the cementing of Hispanic support for the Democratic Party.
At a certain point, if nothing happens in Congress, it will be time to admit that enforcement-to-win-over-Republicans has failed. — gs
* Vox rounds up some particularly colorful examples of conservatives expressing their outrage that the Obama administration hadn’t yet obtained Bergdahl’s release, then promptly expressing their outrage that the administration obtained Bergdhal’s release.
* Dem Senator Mark Pryor’s campaign decided not to be particularly subtle in this ad attacking Tom Cotton for his stance against the Violence Against Women Act. “Who is this guy, and what’s he got against women?” It’s another reminder women’s issues will be central even in the toughest races.
* Hillary Clinton notes that she’s had two fewer concussions than Paul Ryan. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that the lingering effects of head trauma led him to agree to this photo shoot. Not at all.
* Jamelle Bouie rounds up all the things conservatives believe falls short of Obamacare in the department of historical atrocities, including the Fugitive Slave Act, September 11, and the Holocaust.
* And some Second Amendment hero left his gun sitting in the toy aisle of a Target in South Carolina. Freedom!