Trump signs 'historic' bill to transform VA

Kari Scott
June 24, 2017

"What happened was a national disgrace", Trump said, "and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls".

Supporters and opponents of the bill believe civil servants in other government agencies could use it as a model as they seek to hold employees accountable for misconduct. "Today we are finally changing those laws".

The new law also includes provisions to protect whistleblowers from retaliation inside the VA, and gives greater authority to the VA Secretary to fill top positions more quickly inside the VA health care system. In recent years, there have been complaints from Veterans advocates around the country regarding negligent employees and executives being over protected, despite a backlog of hundreds of thousands of VA claims cases, the legislation aims to attack the problems both from the inside and out.

"Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor", Lee said in a joint statement with Sens.

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Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, applauded the move, saying, "In a nasty, partisan environment like we've never seen, veterans' issues can be a unique area for Washington to unite in actually getting things done for ordinary Americans".

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, opposed the bill. The Senate passed the bill by voice vote a week earlier. The Senate bill calls for a longer appeal process than the House version - 180 days versus 45 days. It lowers the standard of evidence needed to fire employees. By signing this important piece of legislation into law, we will be one step closer to reforming VA for once and for all.

"The ultimate goal is nothing less than a transformation of the culture within the VA so that our veterans receive the best care possible", McCarthy said.

"In the three years since committee oversight revealed that veterans at VA were dying while waiting for care, we have heard far too many instances of employees who don't live up to the standards expected of those who serve America's veterans but can not be fired for wrongdoing". "It makes it just as easy to fire a good employee, an innocent employee, as it will be to fire a bad employee".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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