Obama Wants Congressional Help on VA Whistleblower Overload, Afghan Translator Visas
Posted at 1:04 p.m. on Sept. 5, 2014
FORT BELVOIR, VA – Obama participates in a signing ceremony for veterans legislation Aug. 7, joined by VA Secretary Robert McDonald and lawmakers. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The Obama administration is out with its request Friday for some specific needs it wants Congress to address next week in a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through early December, since no annual spending bills have been enacted. And there are a couple of national security items on the list.
Among them: help for dealing with an overload of whistleblowers at the Veterans Affairs Department related to mismanagement there, and a boost to the number of special visas for Afghanistan translators.
Tamar Hallerman (with an assist from yours truly) has the full story for CQ subscribers, which encompasses the entire administration request, and includes some provisions related to Ebola, the Export-Import Bank and the border crisis. Her story also touches on the timing of when Congress might act.
From the story:
The list includes a request to boost the number of visas for Afghanistan civilians who served as translators or otherwise helped the United States during the war. The State Department is on pace to exceed the current cap of 4,000 special visas by Sept. 30 for bringing those Afghan civilians over to the United States, according to the administration, so the request is for another 1,230 through the end of the calendar year, with the option to roll them over past Dec. 31.
Without the language, “Afghan nationals that meet the criteria” for special visas “will see work on their cases suspended, potentially jeopardizing their and their family members’ lives,” the document states.
Because the Veterans Affairs Department, under fire for a health care backlog scandal, is wrestling with an influx of whistleblowers over VA mismanagement, it needs to dedicate $22.9 million for the Office of Special Counsel, according to the administration.
Unless it gets the language for the casework increase, “OSC would be unable to address its regular open casework, and address the incoming VA-related cases, which would provide whistleblowers with appropriate and timely relief.”
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