House to Vote on Groundbreaking VA Bill
San Angelo, TX – Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is urging the House to pass a historic 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 John Cornyn (R-TX) — 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 Texas citizens to contact their elected officials.
CVA Texas Field Director Russ Duerstine released the following statement:
“The time has come for the House to deliver a major victory for veterans receiving care at VA facilities across the nation. If they pass this legislation, Secretary Shulkin will finally be granted the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable for their actions and terminate them without delay. Just as important, the bill will protect whistleblowers who have the courage to report incidents of misconduct. President Trump has indicated repeatedly that he will sign this legislation if it reaches his desk so we strongly urge the House to pass this bill tomorrow. Veterans deserve to rest easy knowing those entrusted with their care will be held accountable for their actions.”
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.