Miami, FL — Today the Senate voted to pass the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that will shorten the process for firing bad employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The bill was introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and was also supported by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) who cosponsored the legislation.
CVA’s Florida chapter engaged in a major grassroots effort to garner support for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act from Senator Bill Nelson. The group’s activists and volunteers made tens of thousands of calls and emails to Senator Nelson’s office urging him to back the bill. CVA also ran web ads in Florida asking activists to contact him in support of the bill.
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri issued the following statement:
“Today the Senate delivered a victory for veterans across the nation by finally moving to institute real accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs. This bill will give Secretary Shulkin the authority he needs to fire bad employees quickly while protecting the whistleblowers who have the courage to speak up. We applaud Senator Rubio for championing this legislation and Senator Nelson for boldly supporting it. We urge the House to work quickly to send this bill to President Trump’s desk so veterans can finally rest assured the staff entrusted with their care are being held responsible for their actions.”
The bill now moves to the House to concur. President Donald Trump has indicated he will sign this legislation when it reaches his desk.
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.
Recently, President Trump established a new Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA. Both the President and Secretary Shulkin have been outspoken about the need for Congress to pass strong legislation to make that new office as effective as possible. Secretary Shulkin recently issued a statement explicitly urging Congress to pass S.1094 without delay.