Raleigh, NC – Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is urging the House to pass a revolutionary reform bill tomorrow that will finally give the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary, David Shulkin, the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable. Last Tuesday, the Senate passed the bill — which was cosponsored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) — by a voice vote and it will head to the President’s desk if passed by the House tomorrow.
CVA engaged in a major grassroots effort to garner support for the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act from lawmakers around the country. CVA activists made hundreds of thousands of calls and emails to legislators’ offices in support of the bill and ran web ads encouraging North Carolina citizens to contact their elected officials.
CVA North Carolina Coalitions Director John Byrnes released the following statement:
“Veterans deserve the peace of mind that those entrusted with their care are being held accountable for their actions. Once this bill is signed into law, Secretary Shulkin will finally have the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable — something that is long overdue. We strongly urge the House to pass this legislation and deliver a major win for veterans in North Carolina and around the country. Veterans will remember who supported this historic effort and who stood in its path.”
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.
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.