Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 29, 2015

Sanders to Introduce New VA Accountability Bill

VA Accountability bill Shinseki

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee appears to be rejecting a House-passed bill that would grant authority to the VA secretary to fire a variety of senior officials.

Instead, Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is working to develop a new piece of VA accountability bill in consultation with the White House, his office said in a statement Friday. The bill would include “expedited due-process protections” for covered VA employees, Sanders’ office said.

“In recent years, as a result of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 1.5 million more veterans have entered the VA health care system,” Sanders said in a statement. “Congress must do everything possible to make certain that the VA has the financial resources and administrative accountability to provide the high-quality health care and timely access to care that our veterans earned and deserve.”

The House passed a bill Wednesday with 390 “yes” votes without the kind of civil service protections envisioned by Sanders’ proposal. When the Senate Appropriations Committee moved Thursday to attach House-backed firing authority language to the fiscal 2015 Military Construction-VA spending bill, Sen. John Tester, D-Mont., expressed concern about the effect on the VA’s ability to attract the best employees.

Sanders objected to a request Thursday by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to call up and pass the House bill. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would move quickly on the firing authority issue, however.

Sanders’ office summarized the new bill in a release Friday afternoon:

The new accountability measure that Sanders will introduce would grant VA secretaries the power to remove senior executives because of poor job performance. Under current law, officials in what the federal government calls the Senior Executive Service may be dismissed or demoted, with rare exception, only for misconduct.

Sanders’ legislation also would maintain the VA’s ability to be competitive in recruiting and retaining top-notch leaders and managers by ensuring expedited due-process protections for senior executives facing removal or demotion for poor performance.

Unlike a bill that the House passed on Thursday, the Sanders measure would avoid politicization of the VA by preventing any new administration from discharging hundreds of high-level civil servants without due process for political reasons.

Sanders also announced plans to reintroduce a version of broader veteran’s health legislation that failed to garner the votes needed overcome a GOP filibuster on the Senate floor.

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  1. YONATAN C

    May 23, 2014
    5:55 p.m.

    THIS IS A VERY SAD AND SORRY SITUATION FOR OUR COUNTRY AND OUR PEOPLE . WE HAVE ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICIALS WHO GET IN OFFICE, AND ONCE IN OFFICE,FEEL THAT THEY NO LONGER NEED TO WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT.THESE SELF-IMPORTANT, SELF-RIGHTEOUS, SELF-INDULGED, CAREER POLITICIANS, ANSWER ONLY TO THEIR PARTY AND SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. WE HAVE BEEN LET DOWN BY OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, AND ARE NOW AT THE MERCY OF POLITICIANS WHO REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE POOR AND UNEMPLOYED WHO ARE STRUGGLING AND SUFFERING WHILE THEY TAKE BREAK AFTER BREAK, AND VACATION, AFTER VACATION. THE REPUBLICANS ARE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES WITHOUT BENEFITS, BECAUSE THEY CHOSE NOT TO HELP THEM. IT HAS BEEN FIVE MONTHS THAT THESE FAMILIES HAVE BEEN WITHOUT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, AND THEY HAVE WATCHED THE REPUBLICANS PLAY THEIR WAITING GAME, MAKING EVERY ATTEMPT TO STALL THE VOTING ON THE EXTENSION BILL, IN THE HOPES IT WILL GET TOO LATE TO VOTE FOR IT. THEY HAVE DELIBERATELY WASTED FIVE MONTHS, WHILE THESE FAMILIES FACED EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, BANKRUPTCY, AND HOMELESSNESS. THESE POOR FAMILIES HAVE LOST EVERYTHING, WHILE WAITING FOR THE HELP THAT THEY DESERVED . THE REPUBLICANS HAVE NOW JUST HANDED OVER TO THE DEMOCRATS 2.6 MILLION NEW VOTES IN THE COMING ELECTION. THESE UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES WILL NOT FORGET THE BETRAYAL OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.

    • RobSiegmund

      May 27, 2014
      7:05 a.m.

      Caps lock? Check! Sulky assumption the world owes you a living? Double check!

      Ladies and gentleman, we have us a frothing liberal. Yay.

  2. dc matthews

    May 25, 2014
    10:25 a.m.

    Huge problem is that funding and programming done in WDC but the delays denials discriminations and gen poor management continue to be done locally anyway. NEED Local review and then FED remedy by those outside VA Non Profits and Counties who are failing us.

  3. Always Vigilant

    May 26, 2014
    10:08 a.m.

    Effective competition depends upon competitors following rules and restraining their desire to cheat or use force against other competitors.

  4. rivahmitch

    May 27, 2014
    6:50 p.m.

    SES employees are under limited term contracts which the government can decline to renew for any reason… but Demorats forbid that anyone in government should be called to account for fraud, incompetence or the insignificant death of a few (or hundreds of) American Veterans.

  5. Bob Eldridge

    May 29, 2014
    3:03 p.m.

    We don’t need to let the head of the VA retired. He should be fired., I has been aware of the 62,000 Homeless American Veterans for a number of years and didn’t do anything for them either.

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