VA accountability bill cosponsored by Blunt, Hoeven, Tillis signed into law

Legislation cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to promote accountability and protect those who reveal wrongdoing within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was signed into law by President Donald Trump last week.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, S. 1094, lowers the burden of proof threshold that the VA secretary will have to meet to remove or suspend employees for misconduct or poor performance, and it enhances whistleblower protections to further promote accountability.

“If employees at the VA are failing our veterans, they should not keep their jobs,” Blunt said. “The bill signed into law (on Friday) will increase accountability at the VA and ensure its employees are helping veterans get the care and benefits they’ve earned. I’ll continue working to fulfill the promises we have made to those who have served.”

The new law also prevents employees found guilty of misconduct from receiving bonuses or relocation expenses, and it would shorten the review and appeal process previously outlined in VA civil service guidelines.

“The vast majority of VA employees are dedicated to serving veterans, and we are grateful for the good work of the Fargo VA staff,” Hoeven said. “However, when an employee commits misconduct, the VA should have the ability to address this in a fair but timely manner. Our veterans have earned the highest level of care possible, and by improving accountability at the VA, this bipartisan legislation will help fulfill our promises to those who have served and defended our nation.”

In addition to codifying whistleblower protections, the measure would also establish an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection to help protect those who alert officials of wrongdoing at the VA and to restore public trust in the agency after a scandal three years ago that revealed long wait times for veterans seeking care.

“This bipartisan legislation will give the VA the long-overdue authority to remove bad actors and put the people in place we need to give veterans the care they need and deserve,” Tillis said. “While the majority of employees at the VA are hardworking individuals who are committed to providing the best health care possible for our veterans, it is unacceptable the VA has to comb through layers of red tape to remove poor-performing employees. Now that this legislation has been signed into law, I look forward to the VA having the tools it needs to have the right personnel in place.”