In Bipartisan Vote, House Passes VA Accountability, Appeals Reform
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016, by a bipartisan vote of 310-116 that included the support of 69 Democrats.
The bill would:
- Shorten the firing/demotion/appeals process for rank-and-file VA employees from more than a year on average to no more than 77 days
- Remove entirely the Merit Systems Protection Board from the firing/demotion/appeals process for VA senior executives
- Provide VA whistleblowers with a means to solve problems at the lowest level possible, while offering them protection from reprisals and mandating strict accountability for those who reprise against them
- Give the VA secretary the authority to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from misbehaving employees
- Give the VA secretary the authority to reduce the pensions of senior executives convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance
- Reform the department’s broken disability benefits appeals process
The bill now awaits consideration by the Senate. Following House passage of H.R. 5620, Chairman Miller released the below statement.
“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. 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. Additionally, I would like to thank Sen. Marco Rubio for leading the fight in the Senate to fix VA’s accountability problems and sponsoring the Senate companion bill to H.R. 5620, which the Senate should take up and pass in short order.” – Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs