WASHINGTON — House lawmakers will relaunch the debate into sweeping health care reforms within the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday.

The hearing, anticipated by veterans groups for weeks, will include plans from VA leaders for the proposed Veterans Coordinated Access & Rewarding Experiences (Vets CARE) Act, which would ease rules concerning veterans seeking medical appointments outside the VA system at government expense.

It’s a move that could potentially send tens of thousands of new veterans into the private sector for care, a prospect that has been hailed by conservative groups and expanding options for veterans but criticized by some Hill Democrats as a money grab for private-sector physicians.

Also this week, amid concerns from Senate Armed Services Committee lawmakers that they have not received enough information from Pentagon officials on overseas military operations, senators from that panel will hear from defense officials on a slate of current naval threats in a classified session.

Tuesday, Oct. 24

House Natural Resources — 9:30 a.m. — Longworth 1324
Puerto Rico
Committee officials will hear from federal officials on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and challenges ahead.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10 a.m. — Cannon 334
VA health care reforms
The committee will consider nine pending bills, including proposed reforms to the VA Choice program and related health care issues.

House Homeland Security — 2 p.m. — Visitors’ Center H210
Cyber security
The subcommittee on cybersecurity will hear from outside experts on ways to better train federal workers on cyber security issues.

Wednesday, Oct. 25
Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — Visitors’ Center S217
Closed briefing
The subcommittee on sea power will hear from Pentagon leaders on major threats facing naval forces.

House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — Rayburn 2172
The subcommittee on the Middle East will hear from federal officials on the president’s recent moves on the nuclear deal with Iran and the steps ahead.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10:30 a.m. — Cannon 334
VBA Overpayments
Committee members will hear from VA officials on managing overpayments to veterans who receive disability compensation or pension benefits.

House Veterans’ Affairs — 10:30 a.m. — Cannon 334
Pending legislation
The subcommittee on economic opportunity will discuss a series of pending bills.

Thursday, Oct. 26

House Judiciary — 9 a.m. — Rayburn 2141
Refugee admissions
The subcommittee on immigration will hear from department officials on the current status of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and potential reforms to the program.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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