CVA Urges Senate to Pass Historic VA Accountability Bill Tomorrow
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 has the support of Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), who recently signed on to cosponsor the legislation.
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 Florida Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri released the following statement:
“Countless veterans have suffered and even died at the hands of an unaccountable VA, but Congress finally has a real chance to pass legislation that could turn the toxic culture at the department around once and for all. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act has the support of every major veterans group, elected officials on both sides of the aisle, and the VA Secretary himself. The bill will finally give Secretary Shulkin the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable and incentivize good work ethic at the department. We commend Senator Bill Nelson for supporting Senator Rubio’s important bill and urge his colleagues in the Senate to follow suit.”
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 has 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 Senator Nelson’s district asking activists to contact him in support of the bill.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the primary union for VA employees, 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.