House approves bill to make VA more accountable

Jeff Miller

A measure introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cleared the House on Wednesday with bipartisan support.

The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, H.R. 5620, would shorten the appeals process for fired or demoted VA employees from a year to 77 days, remove the Merit Systems Protection Board from the appeals process, and strengthen protections for whistleblowers.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs will never be truly worthy of the veterans it serves until it addresses its pervasive lack of accountability among employees at all levels,” Miller, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said. “The VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act gets rid of the loopholes that have been unfairly forcing veterans and the many good VA workers to deal with deadwood employees for years. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the House in passing this important legislation.”

The legislation would give the VA secretary the authority to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from non-compliant employees, and the authority to cut pensions of senior executives convicted of felonies influencing their job performance.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the chair of the House Republican Conference, said that many veterans she has spoken to have said “heads should roll” at the VA.

“I agree that it should not be hard to fire VA employees who break the rules or do a terrible job,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I am proud to say the People’s House (on Wednesday) passed the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which strengthens whistleblower protections, reforms the Department’s disability benefits appeals process, and provides additional authority to the secretary to reprimand employees for performance or misconduct. To our veterans, their families, and concerned Americans across this country, these reforms are common sense and long overdue.”

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) said that the VA has been a mismanaged, unaccountable bureaucracy that has failed veterans for years.

“VA employees face zero consequences for their continued mistakes,” Jenkins said. “This legislation will give the Secretary of the VA increased powers to terminate employees who are not performing, and will give whistleblowers increased protections to speak out if they see something going on that shouldn’t be happening. The legislation would also streamline the approval process to result in quicker decisions for our veterans. There is no overnight solution to the VA’s problems, but this bill is an important step in equipping the VA with the tools needed to improve and provide America’s veterans with everything they are owed, need and deserve.”

More Articles About Jeff Miller
More Articles About Veterans