Congress has finally approved legislation many have been waiting a long time for. On Tuesday the House cleared the Veterans Accountability Bill by a 368-55 vote. This new law will make it much easier to fire employees in the Department of Veteran Affairs. President Trump urged this effort as a huge step toward fixing the government’s second-largest agency.
The Senate passed the bipartisan bill by voice last week, so it will now go to the President for his signature. During Trump’s campaign, he promised to fire VA employees “who let veterans down.” This bill comes on the heels of a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center, where some veterans died while waiting months for just an appointment. Trump has referred to the agency that serves millions of our country’s veterans with 350,000 employees as “the most corrupt” and “incompetent.” The president tweeted Tuesday night that the bill’s passage “is GREAT news for veterans! I look forward to signing it!”
The chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), said that the bill was a needed first step in overhauling the VA. “For far too long, the failures of the bad actors have tarnished the good name of all VA employees,” Roe said. “No effort toward real, wholesale reform at the department will ever be successful absent a strong culture of accountability first.”
In the midst of investigations and stalled policies, House leaders seized the opportunity to declare progress in veteran’s issues. “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 new Senate bill will also fulfill one of the president’s campaign promises. It is now law that there be a permanent VA accountability office. Veteran groups have cheered this movement.”Veterans across the country can look forward to a new culture of accountability and integrity at the VA,” said Dan Caldwell who is the policy director for Concerned Veterans for America. Caldwell has been lobbying for this legislation to be passed for years.
This seems like a win for veterans and Washington. What do you think about his new bill?
Credit: McCatchy DC