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Jaime Supports Veteran Affairs Accountability and Appeals Reform Bill
Bill that protects VA whistleblowers, gives authority to remove VA employees for misconduct passes U.S. House
Yesterday, Jaime Herrera Beutler joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016.
Yesterday, Jaime Herrera Beutler joined a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House to pass the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. This bill will improve VA care by making the process for disciplining or terminating VA employees proven to have been engaged in misconduct faster and more streamlined.
The bill would specifically shorten the timeline for terminating bad-acting employees from over a year down to 77 days. It also allows the VA to reduce an employee’s pension if they were convicted of a felony that influenced their job performance, and provides the VA secretary with the ability to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from employees engaged in such behavior that jeopardized the efficient care of military veterans.
The bill also takes additional steps to protect whistleblowers from retaliation, and provides more avenues for them to submit complaints. The VA must regularly submit to Congress both documented complaints and the steps taken by the agency to resolve the complaints’ underlying issues.
Additionally, the bill also improves the VA appeals process by providing veterans with the opportunity to choose one of three appeal options that best suits their needs – an increase from the single appeals avenue available currently. This would significantly speed of the appeal procedure for many veterans by giving them the option of waiving a hearing and shortening other steps in the process.
“Veterans deserve the best care in return for the service they have given to our nation,” said Jaime. “However, the VA will never be able to clean up its act if it’s too difficult to remove employees for poor performance, misconduct, or committing felonies. For veterans of Southwest Washington to get the care they deserve, the VA needs to be able to swiftly discipline and, if necessary, remove staff engaged in deceptive and destructive behavior that makes this level of care more difficult. I’m pleased to help advance these reforms that will move the VA in the right direction, and I’ll continue to do whatever it takes to reduce wait times and increase the quality of care for Southwest Washington’s military heroes.”