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CVA Launches Effort to Stop Veterans First Act

By Concerned Veterans for America

Arlington, VA – Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is launching a new effort to stop the Veterans First Act during the lame-duck Congress. The group’s activities include an email and social media campaign, digital ads, meetings on Capitol Hill, and patch-thru phone calls to ask Senators to oppose the bill.

Immediately after Election Day, CVA began a targeted digital campaign asking people to call, email, or Tweet at their Senators and tell them to oppose the Veterans First Act. Already, thousands of people across the country have engaged in this campaign.

Today, the group launched a new 30-second digital ad, “Oppose the Veterans First Act!” which outlines the flaws of the bill and urges viewers to call the Congressional switchboard to tell their representatives to oppose it.

Click here to watch the ad.

Tomorrow, CVA will fly-in the leadership of their state chapters to Washington, D.C. in order to meet with their Senators’ offices to urge them to oppose the Veterans First Act. In upcoming weeks, the group will also hold several “days of action” in which CVA volunteers will call citizens across the country and patch them through to their representatives to ask them to oppose the Veterans First Act.

CVA Vice President of Policy Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:

“The Veterans First Act puts Washington first, not veterans. This legislation preserves a broken system, adds layers of red tape, and puts the interest of bureaucrats ahead of veterans’ needs. The fact that the Veterans First Act enjoys the enthusiastic support of the VA’s biggest union should tell you everything you need to know about who will really benefit from this bill.

“The Veterans First Act has been flawed from the start, but given the new legislative landscape following last week’s historic election, it makes even less sense to try to shove through this watered-down bill in the lame duck Congress. That is why we are asking veterans, military family members, and concerned citizens to contact their elected officials and ask them to oppose the Veterans First Act. We hope Congress listens to the veterans community and instead considers meaningful VA reform bills already on the table, like the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act.”

Under the Veterans First Act, it would still be difficult to fire bad VA employees. The legislation would preserve the Merit Systems Protection Board and allows the disciplinary process for most VA employees to drag on for up to 120 days – possibly longer in some cases. The bill also removes all caps on tax-payer funded bonuses for VA employees. Additionally, the Veterans First Act creates more boards, duplicative reports, and administrative positions that would add to the bureaucracy at the VA. Tellingly, the Veterans First Act enjoys the support of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents 230,000 VA employees.

CVA has publicly opposed the Veterans First Act since the bill was introduced by Sen. Isakson (R-GA) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) earlier this year. The group took particular issue with the non-transparent manner in which the legislative language was drafted.

CVA supports the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, which would restore accountability at the VA by expediting the removal of problem employees, increasing the power of the VA Secretary to remove problem employees, and preventing bonuses for senior executives for the next five years.