GOP Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington applauded President Donald Trump for signing a bill giving the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) more power to protect whistleblowers and fire failed employees Friday, but noted there is still more work to be done to protect the nation’s veterans.
Arrington — the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity — said it’s critical the VA be able to fire bad actors in the wake of reports of outlandishly long wait times for medical care and employee misconduct. He added that he believes the agency’s inability to remove poor performers and reward exemplary employees has led to low morale. The Texas Republican said the Whistleblower Protection Act will help the VA expedite hiring top-notch employees while ensuring accountability from workers.
“Every one of the hearings I’ve been at, no exceptions, there has been a component where the effectiveness, the inefficiency, points to one core issue and the central issue is the culture of the VA and the operational dysfunction at the VA and the lack of accountability at the VA,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Arrington said he has since introduced companion legislation, which has passed out of committee, that would bar agency employees from spending more than a quarter of their time on union activities. Citing a Government Accountability Office report which showed hundreds of VA employees were spending more than half their time on union activities, the congressman said changes need to be made to assure veterans receive the best care.
“We have to rein in union activity and we’ve got to make sure that when you’re hired to do a job and when a job is posted presumably that job is needed, and if you’re hired, you shouldn’t spend more than 25 percent of your time on union activity,” he continued. “That’s reasonable — and the law says there is such a thing as a bargaining unit employees that can unionize, and the law says they can spend time on union activity but it must be reasonable, necessary and in the best interest of the public.”
Arrington said the Veterans, Employees and Taxpayer (VET) Protection Act isn’t aimed at banning unions, but making sure employees are focused on are taking care of patients’ needs first.
He is hopeful the bill will be brought to the floor before the August recess.
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