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Trump Signs Law to Make VA More Accountable for Vets' Care

24 June, 2017, 01:25 | Author: Simon Thompson
  • White House: Trump to sign VA accountability bill on Friday

New legislation was needed from Congress mainly because previous efforts to make it easier to fire employees at the VA had become bogged down in the courts, even preventing the VA from getting rid of people like the former head of the Phoenix VA health care director, where a health care scandal broke out in 2014.

"What happened was a national disgrace and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls", Trump said.

Trump has promised VA reform and greater care for US veterans since the early days of his campaign, which followed a scandal in 2014 and changes at the department due to long wait times at some VA locations that prevented retired servicemembers from getting necessary care. It will also increase protections for whistleblowers to help make certain that they are not retaliated against for speaking up about wrongdoings at the department. The VA is the government's second-largest department, providing health care and other services to millions of veterans. It will also provide improved protections for whistleblowers, who have proved to be invaluable in uncovering and addressing issues within the department. VA Secretary David Shulkin, an Obama administration holdover, stood alongside Trump as the president jokingly suggested he'd have to invoke his reality TV catchphrase "You're fired" if the reforms were not implemented.

Federal employee unions opposed the measure. It received bipartisan support and was passed by the 368-55 vote in the House earlier in June. But the Senate-passed measure was seen as more in balance with workers' rights than a version passed by the House in March, mostly along party lines.

"Although marketed as a bill to make it easier to fire bad employees, the proposals are created to kill off and bury the apolitical Civil Service", AFGE President David Cox, Sr. said at a May 17 Senate hearing. VA executives would be held to a tougher standard than rank-and-file employees.

Trump signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, the most significant reform bill in the history of the department. "It makes it just as easy to fire a good employee, an innocent employee, as it will be to fire a bad employee".


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