Miami, FL – Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) is urging the House to pass a historic reform 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 — which was introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and cosponsored by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) — passed the Senate by a voice vote last week and 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, including Sen. Nelson. CVA activists made tens of thousands of calls and emails to Sen. Nelson’s office in support of the bill and ran web ads encouraging Florida citizens to contact him.
CVA Florida Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri released the following statement:
“Veterans have waited far too long for accountability to be established at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the House has an excellent opportunity to help turn the department around. The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will grant VA Secretary Shulkin the authority to immediately fire bad employees before they can cause more harm. This simple but important step will allow Secretary Shulkin to begin to correct the broken culture that currently exists at the VA. Trump has repeatedly stated that he will sign this legislation as soon as it reaches his desk so we urge the House to stand up on behalf of veterans and vote in favor of this legislation. Veterans in Florida and around the nation are watching closely.”
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.