Miami, FL – Today the House passed the bipartisan VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which recently cleared the Senate. President Trump has indicated that he will sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk. The bill was championed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and supported by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL).
Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has been the leading veterans group pushing for accountability reform at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) since the group was founded in 2012. Most recently, CVA ran a national grassroots campaign urging Senators to support the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. In Florida, CVA successfully ran web ads targeted at Senator Nelson and made thousands of calls and emails to his office asking him to support the bill.
CVA Florida Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri issued the following statement:
“The passage of the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 is a historic victory for veterans in Florida and across the nation. For too long, the VA Secretary has lacked the authority needed to hold bad VA employees accountable. Now, Secretary Shulkin will have the tools to discipline staff appropriately and begin fixing the toxic culture at the VA. Credit is due to Senator Marco Rubio for championing this bill, and to the thousands of Floridians who stepped up and pushed Congress to take action. We look forward to President Trump signing this bill into law so veterans receiving care at VA facilities can know that those entrusted with their care are being held responsible for their actions.”
If signed into law, 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.