Roe, Walz Statement on House Consideration of Accountability Legislation
Today, Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Tim Walz (D-Minn.) released the statement below following Majority Leader McCarthy’s announcement the House would consider the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 next week:
“In order to bring wholesale reform to VA, we must give Secretary Shulkin the tools to fire or discipline employees who don’t live up to the standards expected of those serving our nation’s heroes. We thank Senators Isakson, Rubio and Tester for their work to get a bipartisan bill to the House, and we’re glad House leaders acted quickly to schedule a vote on this important bill. The legislation sent to the House will create the culture of accountability at VA that America’s veterans deserve, while preserving VA employees’ rights, and we look forward to supporting this bill on the House floor.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 would:
- Create a new streamlined and efficient process to remove, demote or suspend (for longer than 14 days) any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct with a concrete shortened timeline, while still protecting employees’ due process rights, and would provide them with the right to appeal the action.
- Provide expanded protections for whistleblowers and would specifically bar VA from using this removal authority if the employee has an open whistleblower complaint/case with the Office of Special Counsel.
- Provide the Secretary with the authority to reduce an employee’s federal pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their job at VA; recoup a bonus provided to an employee who engaged in misconduct or poor performance prior to receiving the bonus; and allow the Secretary to recoup any relocation expenses that were authorized for a VA employee only through the employee’s ill-gotten means, such as fraud waste or malfeasance.
- Authorize the Secretary to directly appoint individuals to the positions of Medical Center Director and Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) if they have a demonstrated ability in the medical profession, health care administration or health care fiscal management. This will make it easier to fill these critical positions quickly.