Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) college loans bill was filibustered today. On the other hand, fellow New England progressive Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) finally broke through with a major accomplishment by getting his veteran’s health bill passed with a huge bipartisan majority. Hopefully, lame duck House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will find the energy to turn Sanders’ bill into a law that the president can sign.

The bill isn’t perfect and the expanded privatization could even wind up harming the quality of care for veterans in the long term. But the $500 million for more doctors and the money to build or expand 26 facilities are much needed.

The biggest stamp Sanders put on the bill, however, was this:

The House passed a similar bill last week. But the Senate bill differs in that it includes a provision, pushed by Sanders, that would give employees who are removed from the department some due process protections. Any employee who is fired would have one week to appeal the decision, the senator said, and the “appropriate body” will have three weeks to handle that claim. Sanders said he included the provision for fear that a future president could target senior department executives who are aligned with another party for termination.

Yes, absent some protections, some future president could purge the VA of career professionals and fill it up with loyalist hacks. But the more important principle is that employees have some protections against the caprice of their managers.

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