Proposed Legislation Would Tighten Loopholes in Existing VA Laws

In response to President Trump’s executive order signed in April 2017, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) introduced S. 1094 Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which passed the U.S. Senate in a voice vote on June 6, 2017.

On April 27, 2017, President Trump signed the Presidential Executive Order on Improving Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs, ordering the VA to establish and fund an office for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection.

The presidential order and Senate Bill 1094 address the loopholes that remain from the 2014 law that was intended to reform the VA, the Veterans Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014. The 2014 law addressed the ability of the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary to fire senior managers within the department who did their jobs poorly or did a poor job of overseeing those under their authority; S. 1094 would expand that authority to include dismissing lower level staff with poor job performances, too.

The current process by which government employees are able to appeal a job dismissal, even for actions as flagrant as stealing on the job or stealing drugs is onerous and time-consuming, allowing such employees to remain in their positions for months or years while the appeal process plays itself out. S. 1094 seeks to expedite that appeals process. In addition, the new law would make it easier for the VA to strip pensions and bonuses from employees justifiably dismissed from their jobs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is one of those currently rare pieces of legislation that have bipartisan support. In total, 39 senators co-sponsored Rubio’s bill, including seven Democrats. President Trump has indicated his support of S. 1094, urging the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s actions to pass the bill and get it to the Oval Office for the president’s signature. After its passage in the Senate, S. 1094 was passed to the House on June 7, 2017.


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