JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One veteran watchdog group is hoping today will be a historic day for the veteran community with the expected passage of meaningful legislation that will lead to better health care for those who have served.
The U.S. Senate is set to vote on the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida). It's bipartisan legislation that 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.
Concerned Veterans for America has been pushing for this legislation to pass, which has already gotten the backing of the full U.S. House of Representatives.
CVA says this legislation is desperately needed pointing to news last week that a VA medical center director found guilty of misconduct was reinstated to a high-ranking position at VA headquarters.
“Countless veterans have suffered and even died at the hands of an unaccountable VA, but Congress finally has a real chance to pass legislation that could turn the toxic culture at the department around once and for all," said CVA Florida Coalitions Director Diego Echeverri. "The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act has the support of every major veterans group, elected officials on both sides of the aisle, and the VA Secretary himself. The bill will finally give Secretary Shulkin the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable and incentivize good work ethic at the department. We commend Senator Bill Nelson for supporting Senator Rubio's important bill and urge his colleagues in the Senate to follow suit.”
CVA says the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the primary union for VA employees, is the primary opponent of S.1094, saying the group has consistently opposed commonsense and bipartisan bills which would introduce more accountability to VA.