The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs cleared a bill Wednesday that would make it much easier for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary David Shulkin to fire bad employees, moving the legislation one step closer to law.
Now that the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 has passed the committee hurdle, it will move to the floor of the Senate for further consideration. It’s not clear exactly when the bill will reach the full chamber, but if the Senate passes the bill, it will be sent to the House for a vote.
The purpose of the bill is to decrease the amount of time it takes to fire bad employees. The legislation also grants Shulkin the authority to take back ill-gotten bonuses provided to employees. He can also reduce the pensions of VA employees who engaged in felonies related to their work.
Employees who are kicked out, moreover, would not receive payment while appealing their terminations.
Veterans’ advocacy and policy organization Concerned Veterans for America applauded SVAC clearing the bill.
“We’re pleased to see that the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was moved to the Senate floor with no changes and that committee members voted down amendments that would have undermined the intent of the bill,” CVA policy director Dan Caldwell said in a statement. “The Senate will now vote on strong, meaningful reform that will finally give Secretary Shulkin the power he needs to fire bad employees quickly. Senator Isakson should be commended for his hard work getting this measure passed. Veterans are now one step closer to receiving the quality of care they earned and deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the fight isn’t over yet.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation exclusively reported that senior interior designer Brittney Lowe was allowed to return to employment at the Memphis VA without issue after serving a 60-day jail sentence for driving under the influence. After the reporting, Shulkin issued a statement citing Lowe’s case and urged the Senate to pass accountability legislation as soon as possible.
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