Congressman Tim Huelskamp (KS-01) was the first co-sponsor of the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act when Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller introduced it this summer. It passed Wednesday evening with overwhelming support in the House (301-116).
"At a committee hearing last year, the VA publicly admitted to me it was too difficult to fire bad employees. The situation is so dire that dozens of blatantly negligent employees and convicted criminals continue to work at the VA with zero consequences for their behavior.
"This bill provides necessary solution to a problem that has plagued the VA and other agencies for a long time," Huelskamp said. "This bill places more authority, and therefore more responsibility, on the VA Secretary to fire bad VA employees quickly."
The bill will expand the VA Secretary's removal authority to cover all VA employees and speed up the removal process.
"It might not be talked about too much around here -- but inside Washington everyone knows there is no accountability in the civil service. A recent nonpartisan Government Accountability office study found on average it takes six months to a year -- and often longer -- to remove a bad bureaucrat in Washington! That's far too long for someone who has committed a heinous crime or is just not putting his or her interests ahead of our Veterans.
"I hope this will create a cultural shift in the VA. Until that happens, we will continue to see headlines about VA employees dealing heroin to patients, operating on patients while drunk, keeping their job despite an armed robbery charge, and giving years of paid leave to bad doctors. And we can all agree that our Veterans deserve better."