Sunday, 27 May, 2018

Trump signs 'historic' bill to transform VA

Trump signs 'historic' bill to transform VA Trump signs 'historic' bill to transform VA
Sandy Vega | 26 June, 2017, 04:39

Trump repeatedly promised during the election campaign to dismiss VA workers "who let our veterans down", and he cast Friday's bill signing as fulfillment of that promise.

"This is one of the largest reforms to the VA in its history", Trump touted in a White House ceremony.

"Our veterans have fulfilled their duty to this nation and now we must fulfill our duty to them", Trump said.

This tragedy was enabled by VA managers who put 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans on a secret waiting list to hide the fact that hospitals were not providing timely care, defined as occurring within 14 to 30 days of a request, to veterans who needed it.

Supporters and opponents of the bill believe civil servants in other government agencies could use it as a model as they seek to hold employees accountable for misconduct.

"It gives the secretary authority to remove federal employees who fail and endanger our veterans and to do so quickly and effectively. This bill is long overdue, and I'm glad that it's finally passed into law and that President Trump signed it".

The new law will lower the burden of proof to fire employees, allowing for dismissal even if most evidence is in a worker's favor.

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The "VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017" makes permanent an office created by a Trump executive order earlier this year to look into claims made by whistleblowers and to protect them from retaliation.

"That is why it has been such a national scandal that the Veterans' Administration has had so much corruption and provided inadequate medical care to so many veterans".

WTKR notes that the bill received bipartisan support in Congress, where it passed with a vote of 368-55 in the House of Representatives.

Also present were lawmakers who sponsored the bill, including Rep. Phil Roe (R-MD). For regular employees, the process of contesting the firing through the Merit Systems Protection Board would take a maximum of 180 days.

The new law gives the VA secretary more power to fire employees who break department rules and increases whistleblower protections.

Spotted in the room were veteran advocates from the major veteran service organizations, including American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Wounded Warrior Project, Got Your 6, and Concerned Veterans of America.

The Obama government took measures to improve medical attention for veterans and restructure the VA, including dismissals of personnel.

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