Arlington, VA – Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is urging the Senate to pass a groundbreaking bill tomorrow that would finally give the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary, David Shulkin, the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable. The bill was introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has yet to take a public stance on the bill.
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.
CVA Pennsylvania Field Director Eve Allen released the following statement:
“The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will help ensure that the government employees entrusted caring for our veterans will be held accountable for their actions and performance. All too often, bad employees at the VA are kept on the payroll while their misconduct goes unpunished and veterans’ lives are put at risk. This accountability legislation will finally give Secretary Shulkin the authority he needs to get bad VA employees out while protecting the whistleblowers who have the courage to stand up and flag wrongdoing. This bill is commonsense, bipartisan legislation that has the support of every major veterans group in the nation, so there is no reason for Senator Bob Casey not to support it tomorrow.”
CVA’s Pennsylvania chapter engaged in a major grassroots effort to garner support for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act from Senator Bob Casey. The group has made tens of thousands of calls and emails to Senator Casey’s office urging him to back the bill. CVA also ran web ads in Senator Casey’s district asking activists to contact him in support of the bill. Last month, Senator Casey met in Wilkes Barre, PA with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the primary union for VA employees, to discuss similar legislation that they believed represented an attack on VA employees.
The AFGE is the primary opponent of S.1094. The group has consistently opposed commonsense and bipartisan bills which would introduce more accountability to the VA.
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.
CVA also actively supported the VA Accountability First Act, an earlier version of the bill which passed the House with bipartisan support. Many of CVA’s Senate targets during that effort are now cosponsors of the new VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.