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President Trump Keeps Promise To Veterans By Signing VA Accountability Bill

- June 23, 2017

President Trump Signed A Bipartisan Bill Today To Improve Accountability And Efficiency At The VA

President Trump Signed Legislation That Protects Whistleblowers At The VA And Make It Easier To Fire Poor Performing Employees. "President Trump is scheduled to sign legislation Friday designed to protect whistleblowers while making it easier to fire problem employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 'VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017' makes permanent an office created by a Trump executive order earlier this year to look into claims made by whistleblowers and to protect them from retaliation." (Donovan Slack, "Trump To Sign VA Bill To Protect Whistleblowers, Expedite Firing Of Problem Workers," USA Today , 6/23/17)

Congress Passed The Legislation, Backed By President Trump, On June 13 That Made It Easier For Department Of Veterans Affairs Employees To Be Fired For Poor Performance. "Congress approved long-sought legislation Tuesday to make firing employees easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs, part of an effort urged by President Trump to fix a struggling agency serving millions of veterans. The bill will make it easier for VA employees, including executives, to be fired by lowering the standard of evidence required to 'remove, demote, or suspend' someone for poor performance or misconduct. It also gives whistleblowers more protections, including preventing the VA from removing an employee with an open whistleblower case." ("Congress Passes Long-Awaited Veterans Affairs Accountability Act," CBS News , 6/14/17)

  • The Bill Shortens The Time Necessary To Remove An Employee And Gives The VA Secretary More Flexibility To Appoint Directors Of VA Hospitals. "Under the current disciplinary process, it takes an average 51 days to remove an employee, largely due to a 30-day notice period, Shulkin said. The legislation would cut the 30-day advance notice to 10 days. It would also speed up the process that employees use to appeal any disciplinary action against them. It lessens the evidentiary standards required to fire an employee and it allows the VA secretary to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses in certain instances. It also allows the VA secretary to directly appoint directors to lead VA hospitals and integrated service networks, instead of going through lengthy hiring processes." (Nikki Wentling, "Some Veterans Celebrate VA Accountability Bill As A Promise Kept," Stars and Stripes , 6/22/17)
  • VA Secretary David Shulkin Supported The Bill And Said The Employee Accountability Process Was "Clearly Broken." "The bill was backed by VA Secretary David Shulkin, who called the employee accountability process 'clearly broken.' It would lower the burden of proof to fire employees, allowing a dismissal even if most evidence is in a worker's favor. Shulkin told CBS News back in April that there's a 'bipartisan' commitment to fixing the VA under Mr. Trump." ("Congress Passes Long-Awaited Veterans Affairs Accountability Act," CBS News , 6/14/17)

The Bipartisan Legislation Passed The House 368 To 55. "The bipartisan legislation passed the House Tuesday 368 to 55. The bill already passed the Senate and it now goes to President Donald Trump who is expected to sign it into law." (Alex Moe, "House Sends VA Accountability Bill To President Trump," NBC News , 6/13/17)

The Bill Was Praised By Members Of Congress From Both Sides Of The Aisle

Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chairman Of The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Said The Bill Would "Ensure That The VA Is Accountable To Our Nation's Veterans." "Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who oversees the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, applauded the bill's passing, and said it would 'ensure that the VA is accountable to our nation's veterans.' Isakson had introduced the bill along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont), ranking member of the Senate VA committee, on May 11." (Ellen Mitchell, "House Approves VA Bill, Sending It To Trump," The Hill , 6/13/17)

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) Applauded The Passage Of The Bill By The House Of Representatives "For Passing This Much-Needed Legislation To Enhance Accountability And Protect Whistleblowers At The VA." "Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) - who cosponsored the bill along with Isakson, Tester Rubio and 27 other senators - also expressed his approval, calling it a step in the right direction. 'I applaud the House of Representatives for passing this much-needed legislation to enhance accountability and protect whistleblowers at the VA,' McCain said in a statement." (Ellen Mitchell, "House Approves VA Bill, Sending It To Trump," The Hill , 6/13/17)

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Said "These Changes Are Crucial To Ensure That There's Accountability At The VA So That It Can Deliver For Our Veterans." "'These changes are crucial to ensure that there's accountability at the VA so that it can deliver for our veterans,' said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sponsored the legislation. Rubio crafted the bill with Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Jon Tester, D-Mont. - the chairman and ranking Democrat on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs." (Geoff Bennett, "Congress Passes Bill To Increase Accountability Among VA Employees," NPR , 6/13/17)

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) Said He Was "Pleased That The House Of Representatives Quickly Passed Our Critical Legislation To Make Sure That The VA Can Provide The Best Possible Care And Benefits For Veterans And I Look Forward To Seeing The President Sign It Into Law." "'This bill does right by veterans by cracking down on bad employees who jeopardize veterans' health care and protecting the hardworking folks who serve veterans. I'm pleased that the House of Representatives quickly passed our critical legislation to make sure that the VA can provide the best possible care and benefits for veterans and I look forward to seeing the President sign it into law.'" (Press Release, "U.S. House Unanimously Passes Tester's Bipartisan VA Accountability Bill," Sen. Jon Tester , 6/13/17)

Ahead Of The Vote In The House, House Veterans' Affairs Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) And Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-MN) Released A Joint Statement Praising The Legislation For Creating "The Culture Of Accountability At VA That America's Veterans Deserve." "Ahead of the planned vote, the compromise measure drew praise from House Veterans' Affairs Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Tim Walz (D-Minn.). 'In order to bring wholesale reform to VA, we must give Secretary Shulkin the tools to fire or discipline employees who don't live up to the standards expected of those serving our nation's heroes,' Roe and Walz said in a joint statement. 'The legislation sent to the House will create the culture of accountability at VA that America's veterans deserve, while preserving VA employees' rights, and we look forward to supporting this bill on the House floor.'" (Rachel Bade and Connor O'Brien, "McCarthy: House Will Send Trump VA Accountability Bill Next Week," Politico , 6/7/17)

Several Veterans Groups Supported The Legislation

Dan Caldwell, Policy Director Of Concerned Veterans For America, Praised The Bill Saying "Veterans Across The Country Can Look Forward To A New Culture Of Accountability And Integrity At The VA." "'Veterans across the country can look forward to a new culture of accountability and integrity at the VA,' said Dan Caldwell, policy director of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America, which lobbied for years to pass legislation." (Hope Yen, "Congress Passes Long-Sought VA Accountability Bill," The Associated Press , 6/13/17)

Louis Celli Jr., National Director Of Veterans Affairs And Rehabilitation For The American Legion, Praised The Bill And Said, "By And Large The Average VA Employee Will Be Relieved." "The good employee shows up to work everyday, deals with the struggles of traffic, showing up and doing their job, and then you get these poor performances who are sitting home appeal after appeal getting paid,' said Louis Celli Jr., national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation for American Legion, another veterans advocacy group. 'I think by and large the average VA employee will be relieved.'" (Lauren Rosenblatt, "Congress Approves VA Reform Bill That Will Make It Easier To Fire Department Managers," Los Angeles Times , 6/13/17)

Over A Dozen Veteran Groups Supported The Bill. "More than a dozen large veterans group in support of the bill." (Nikki Wentling, "Some Veterans Celebrate VA Accountability Bill As A Promise Kept," Stars and Stripes , 6/22/17)


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