WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's choice to lead the beleaguered Veterans Affairs Department goes before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today as Congress considers a bill to help the next VA leader do his job.

VA nominee Robert McDonald appears headed to easy confirmation. The path for the veterans' bill is decidedly rockier.

The Senate approved a bill last month authorizing $35 billion through 2016 to build new clinics, hire doctors and make it easier for veterans who can't get prompt appointments with VA doctors to get outside care.

The House passed a similar bill. Since then, however, lawmakers have balked at the price tag.

The Senate committee's chairman, Bernie Sanders, called negotiations with the House "very tough," but said he hopes Congress can agree before adjourning in August.

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