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The bill would open VA health care to uninsured veterans with no service-connected disability. It also would extend from five to 10 years the time in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan can get VA health care regardless of their disability status.

“You have an already stressed bureaucracy, then, you’re going to throw more on it for them to do,” said Stewart Hickey, American Veterans’ national executive director. “You’re just going to compound the problem.”

Hickey said there are some sections of the bill his organization supports, but he’s worried it’s too big and its scope is too broad. He said some of the spending isn’t fiscally responsible.

One section directs the VA to undertake a two-year pilot program in which the department would cover the cost of fitness center memberships for veterans diagnosed as overweight and who live more than 15 minutes from a VA facility with a gym.

“To me, this is just going to make veterans look like greedy pigs,” Hickey said.

The bill is expected to get overwhelming support from Democratic lawmakers, with 21 already signed on as co-sponsors. Sanders has met with Republicans behind the scenes, but so far has no takers. He proudly describes the bill as the most comprehensive veterans’ legislation to be offered in decades.

“This legislation did not come from Bernie Sanders. It didn’t come from anybody else on the committee. It came from the veterans’ community itself,” Sanders said.

Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., a member of the committee, praised Sanders‘ efforts and noted that many of the bill’s provisions were passed by the panel.

“It’s not for political purposes. He really would like to get something done,” Boozman said of Sanders. “… What I’d like to see happen is throw the bill out there. Let’s open it up to amendments and let’s find some pay-fors.”

Other GOP senators contend Democrats are using the bill to enhance their political standing with veterans groups.

“It’s going nowhere. It’s just a political exercise,” Graham said.

Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the top Republican on the committee, agreed.

“I don’t think they want this passed. I think they know they’d have troubles in the House, and they like this issue,” Burr said.