Trump signs law to make VA more accountable for vets' care

Erica Roy
June 24, 2017

President Donald Trump signed a bill into law Friday that will make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees, part of a push to overhaul an agency that is struggling to serve millions of military vets. What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls.

Trump promised as a candidate to fire VA employees "who let our veterans down".

"As you all know all too well, for many years the government failed to keep its promises to our veterans". "To achieve this goal, it is critical that employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are held to the highest performance standards, and that they are accountable when those standards are not met". 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. This is a bipartisan bill that will give the VA secretary the power to fire bad employees, and also protect whistleblowers who come forward. It passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote.

"Although marketed as a bill to make it easier to fire bad employees, the proposals are created to kill off and bury the apolitical Civil Service", AFGE President David Cox, Sr. said at a May 17 Senate hearing.

Shulkin pushed for this kind of reform bill during his confirmation process and in the first months of his tenure, arguing that the department was "still in critical condition" and more accountability was needed to improve the treatment veterans receive. Critics say few employees are fired for malfeasance. The Senate bill calls for a longer appeal process than the House version - 180 days versus 45 days.

"We won't be able to accomplish any of the reforms we need to in the VA if we don't get the right people in place", said VA Secretary David Shulkin, who with the support of the President, has pressed ahead with internal changes.

President Donald Trump signs the "Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017" in the East Room of the White House, Friday, June 23, 2017, in Washington.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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