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Amidst the political turmoil in Charlottesville, VA, President Trump has signed today a bill aimed at transforming the VA. Here are his full remarks
THE PRESIDENT: Today is another milestone in our work to transform the VA, where we’re doing record-setting business, including something called the Accountability Act, where David and his executives can now hold people accountable for doing a poor job and say, “You’re fired.” You do a poor job for our veterans — you’re fired. That’s been in the making for 40 years; they weren’t able to get it approved. One of our legislative successes. Frankly, one of our many legislative successes. We got it approved. And I know, David, it’s making life a lot better, and people are working a lot harder because of it.
In a few moments, I will sign the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017. This bill will ensure that veterans continue to have the ability to see the doctor of their choice — so important — and don’t have to wait or travel long distances for care. And during the campaign, I kept talking about it. People — these great, incredible veterans — our finest — they’re waiting in line for seven days, nine days, fourteen days, for ailments that could be fixed quickly, and they end up dying of things that could be taken care of very, very routinely. And I said, that’s never going to happen when I’m President.
And I said, even at the time, before having tremendous research given to me, and after the research was given, it was still back to the same, basic common sense. Why can’t they go out and see a doctor? If they have to wait seven days or fourteen days in line, why can’t they see a doctor, and we’ll pay for the cost of the doctor? And that’s going to be a lot less expensive, but, more importantly, you’re going to have immediate medical care for our veterans, and that’s what we’re doing. And they’re very, very thankful. And it started already, quite a little while ago, considering we’re a very young administration. And I think you see from the veterans, they’re very, very proud of it and very happy.
Very importantly, this bill also authorizes new community-based outpatient clinics and improves the VA’s ability to hire quality job candidates. We’re getting candidates that are of the highest quality into the VA system now, so that our veterans have more choices and more access to the absolute best possible care.
I want to thank Congressman Phil Roe, Senator Johnny Isakson — they two people have been working so hard — Senator Dean Heller for their dedicated efforts to get this bill through Congress. It was very, very tough for reasons that I guess I understand, but it was not easy. And I will tell you that Phil and Johnny and Dean worked very, very hard to get it through. And, by the way, I can also say others — and even some Democrats. Do you want to say their names?
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Sure.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Say their names.
SECRETARY SHULKIN: Senator Tester and Representative Walz were key in helping us get this done, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. See? I can do it. (Laughter.)
But people fought, and they really fought us hard. And now the administration is fighting for you. We’re working night and day to ensure our brave veterans are provided with world-class treatment — which is what they’re getting — world-class treatment. And, by the way, again, we’re here for just a little more than six months — you’re seeing it on a daily basis, get better and better and better. And you’re hearing it from the veterans. But they’re getting this great medical treatment, care, procedures, and we’re getting our facilities shaped up and made into world-class facilities at the same time.
So our great veterans deserve only the best, and that’s exactly what they’re getting.
I want to thank everybody for being here, especially the wonderful veterans behind me. They have helped us so much. They’re spectacular people.
And again, going back to Charlottesville, we have to heal the wounds of our country. These are wounds that have been going on for, really, a long time. And I thought, and everybody thought, and everybody wants it to heal, and it will heal. And we’re going to make every effort possible to make sure that that healing procedure goes as quickly as possible.
I love the people of our country. I love all of the people of our country. We’re going to make America great again, but we’re going to make it great for all of the people of the United States of America.
Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
They’d like me to sign the bill here instead of outside, so I think we’ll do that. Okay? Thank you.
(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)
Okay? Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it.
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