June 04, 2024

Ranking Member Takano Statement on Today's Critical Skills Incentives Full Committee Hearing

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Libby Carlson - 771-216-2280

WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mark Takano (CA-39) released the following statement after the Full Committee’s hearing on critical skills incentives: 

“It has been less than two years since my Honoring our PACT Act was signed into law, and the implementation has been an overall success. Last month, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that one million veterans and their survivors have been granted PACT Act benefits. And earlier this year President Joe Biden and VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced accelerated healthcare enrollment for thousands of veterans, allowing some veterans to register for VA healthcare years ahead of schedule. I commend the Secretary and the Department for the overall successful and unprecedentedly swift implementation of the PACT Act, which is helping even more veterans access the care and benefits they have earned.   

Included in the PACT Act was an authority called a critical skills incentive, which granted VA the ability to retain top talent in occupations where jobs are highly sought after. These incentives ensure that VA has the robust workforce it needs to care for our veterans and be competitive in the healthcare talent marketplace.

The testimony we heard today from the Inspector General about his report was disappointing, but the system’s guardrails worked. As soon as leaders at VA discovered what was happening, the Secretary informed both the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Congress. While the missteps VA made here are concerning, I have faith that VA can and will use the critical skills incentives authorized in the PACT Act as Congress intends, as they have done for years with the many other authorities that have successfully retained employees.  

The PACT Act is not the first time that Congress has granted VA authorities to keep critical employees and they are vital for continued successful implementation of the PACT Act. I will continue advocating for the use of critical skills incentives while also maintaining our congressional oversight responsibilities to make sure something like this does not happen again.”