No Time Wasted: First Bill Passed by 115th Congress Brings More Accountability to the VA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With its first legislative act of the 115th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to bring greater accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill now awaits further action by the Senate.
H.R. 27, the Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act, ends the VA practice of scrubbing black marks on employee files and requires that all reprimands remain in a VA employee’s file for the duration of their time employed by the department.
Under current VA policy, an employee’s record of admonishments can be wiped clean after two years. In the more serious case of a reprimand, it remains on file for only three years.
U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.), a longtime advocate of VA reform and improvement, applauded passage of the bill saying it is another necessary step toward bringing greater accountability to the VA.
“I couldn’t be more pleased that the first bill passed by the House in the 115th Congress is aimed at bringing more accountability to the VA. Improving veterans services is one of my top priorities, and this piece of legislation is just one of many steps Congress must take to overhaul the VA.
“The absence of accountability only breeds a culture of complacency. While the vast majority of VA employees care deeply about veterans and work very hard to care for them, it’s no secret that some bad actors have not been held accountable for poor performance. That’s not fair to the hardworking VA employees or the veteran patients who are ultimately harmed by low morale.
“I appreciate my colleague Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Penn.) for sponsoring this important legislation and incoming House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Dr. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) for his leadership on enacting commonsense VA reforms.”
Congress’ renewed focus on VA legislation comes just weeks after reports that the VA released health care quality data for its medical centers across the country after years of refusing to share them publicly. The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) is listed among the VA hospitals that are improving, jumping from a one-star rating to a two-star.
Rep. Roby, who pushed for the release of these ratings for more than a year, commended this progress and pledged to continue her fight for VA improvement.
“While significant progress has been made, much work remains. We saw first hand in Central Alabama what happens when there is a lack of accountability. We also saw how problems can persist when the VA fails to take immediate action. That’s why I plan to introduce an updated version of my VA Medical Center Recovery Act to create stronger tools and mechanisms for turning around failed health care systems.
“Veterans who have suffered as a result of their service deserve the absolute best health care we can provide. After years of VA shortcomings, I’m proud that the 115th Congress wasted no time in addressing these problems and getting results for our veterans.”
The VA Medical Center Recovery Act passed the House but was not voted on by the Senate in the 114th Congress.