Arlington, VA — Today the House of Representatives passed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which already passed through the Senate with bipartisan support. The bill will now be sent to President Trump’s desk, and he has indicated that he will sign it as quickly as possible.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has been the leading veterans group pushing for accountability reform at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since the group was founded in 2012. Most recently, CVA ran a national grassroots campaign urging elected officials to support the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 via hundreds of thousands of activist calls and emails, as well as targeted web ads and local events across the country.
CVA Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Veteran activists have worked tirelessly for years to see these reforms passed. Unions fought hard to block this because they benefit from the VA status quo and don’t want their members to face increased accountability. Fortunately, elected officials on both sides of the aisle have finally recognized that the VA’s toxic culture is causing American veterans to suffer.
“For far too long, negligence and misconduct at the VA has led to excessive wait times and poor quality of care. This measure will incentivize VA employees to be more customer-focused. They will now know that there will be consequences for their actions. This historic bill will not only change the way the VA operates, but it can serve as a roadmap for broader civil service reform across the entire federal government.
“Lives will be saved as a result of this legislation. We’re grateful that Congress came together on this important issue, and veterans across the country can look forward to a new culture of accountability and integrity at the VA once the President signs this bill into law.”
If signed into law, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 will reduce the time it takes to fire bad employees at the VA, give Secretary Shulkin the ability to recoup bonuses awarded to employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct, and reduce the pensions of VA employees found guilty of felonies related to their employment at the VA. The measure ensures that VA employees who are terminated will not remain on the VA payroll while appealing their terminations. The bill will also increase protections for whistleblowers to help ensure that they are not retaliated against for speaking up about wrongdoings at the department.