Congress passes long-sought VA accountability bill
June 13, 2017
"Congress approved long-sought legislation Tuesday to make firing employees easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs, part of an effort urged by President Donald Trump to fix a struggling agency serving millions of veterans.
"The measure comes after a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for appointments. During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to fire VA employees 'who let our veterans down,' describing the government's second-largest agency and its more than 350,000 employees as "the most corrupt" and 'incompetent.'
"'We've been talking about this for about three years. And we uncovered all the scandals at the VA. Now we're making law,' said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. 'Now we're getting the veterans the kind of response and the kind of accountability they earned and deserved.'
"The Senate bill also would turn a campaign promise of Trump's into law. It would create a permanent VA accountability office, established in April by executive order.
"The VA has been plagued for years by problems, including the 2014 scandal, where employees created secret lists to cover up delays in appointments. Critics say few employees are fired for malfeasance.
"Trump praised the legislation when it passed the Senate last week, urging the House on Twitter to 'get this bill to my desk ASAP!' House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., promised to get it done this week.
"Veterans' groups cheered the bill.
"'Veterans across the country can look forward to a new culture of accountability and integrity at the VA,' said Dan Caldwell, policy director of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America, which lobbied for years to pass legislation."
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