VA Accountability Legislation Heads to President’s Desk
National Executive Director (NED) Thomas Snee participated in a press conference on Capitol Hill to celebrate the passage of the “Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act” (S.1094) to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The legislation will now head to the president’s desk. The FRA-supported bill streamlines the process to remove, demote or suspend (for longer than 14 days) any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct. The bill also expanded protections for whistleblowers at the VA. Further, the bill authorizes the VA to reduce an employee’s federal pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their work. Legislators at the press conference include: House Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Conference Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (Wash.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), HVAC Chairman Phil Roe, Rep.(Tenn.) Rep. Brian Mast (Fla.), Rep. Mike Bost (Ill.), Rep. Jodey Arrington (Tex.), Rep. Bruce Poliquin (Maine), Rep. Scott Taylor (Va.), Rep. Neal Dunn (Fla.), Rep. Tim Murphy (Penn.).
A special thanks to HVAC Chairman Roe for acknowledging during the conference, FRA’s support in getting the bill passed. FRA’s quote from NED Snee that was referenced by Chair Roe stated, “Accountability in the VA, and within the department, should be an authentic, autonomous, and transparent continuum, of a prime-mover, for the defined core-values, care and benefits of our nation’s veterans and their families. This should be the mainstay, the anchor, and responsible course of action, now and forever.”
In related news, the House also approved the “Quicker Veterans Benefits Delivery Act” (H.R.1725) introduced by Rep. Tim Walz (Minn.). The bill requires (current law allows) the VA to accept, for purposes of establishing a claim for veterans disability benefits, a report of a medical examination administered by a private physician. If the report is sufficiently complete, it no longer requires confirmation by a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) physician. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration. Members can use the FRA Action Center to ask their Senators to support the bill.