Arlington, VA – Nine members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee (HVAC) signed on as original co-sponsors for HVAC Chairman Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN)’s newly-introduced VA Accountability First Act of 2017.
Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), Rep. Aumua Radewagen (R-AS), and Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) all signed on as early supporters of the bill.
If passed, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 would make it easier to terminate bad employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and help bring a new culture of accountability to the broken department.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“Out of the gate, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 was backed by a significant number of representatives who serve on the House Veterans Affairs Committee – including many who are veterans themselves. This early showing of support demonstrates the sense of urgency for the committee to pass legislation that would hold bad VA employees accountable for their wrongdoings. The VA Accountability First Act of 2017 is a strong, common-sense measure that would fix the toxic culture at the broken VA and help veterans across the country receive better care. We applaud the early supporters of this critical legislation and urge the House pass this bill as quickly as possible.”
The 2017 VA Accountability First Act would drastically shorten the overall termination and appeals process for VA employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct. Currently, that process can take months or even years. The bill also empowers the VA Secretary to recoup bonuses awarded in error or given to employees who were later found to have engaged in misconduct. Additionally, the bill gives the VA Secretary the ability to reduce the pensions of VA employees who are convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance.
The VA Accountability First Act of 2017 contains language that ensures that these new powers for the VA Secretary cannot be used against whistleblowers who speak up about wrongdoings at the VA.
CVA has been pushing for accountability at the VA since the wait list scandal broke at the Phoenix VA in 2014. In response, the group launched the VA Accountability Project. Since that time, less than ten VA employees have been terminated for manipulating wait times at the VA.