For the past three or four years we’ve been inundated with reporting on the fraud, waste, mismanagement and just plain could-give-a-good-crappedness in the Department of Veterans Affairs. A Veterans Affairs IG report indicates that 307,000 American veterans died while awaiting medical care. Along with the grotesque malfeasance of the agency, we’ve seen, time and again, officials who were involved in the mismanagement promoted. In fact, the first guy slated to fix the problems in the VA had been implicated in the scandal he was supposed to reverse. Finally, Congress acted. At the end of July the House passed the VA Accountability Act.
In June 2014, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) called on President Obama and Congress to execute a new Marshall Plan for Veterans: a bold, comprehensive effort to restore confidence in the VA. As part of that plan, IAVA called for full criminal investigations for those bad actors who ruined the reputation of the VA and harmed its veteran patients. Those who have violated America’s sacred trust with our veterans must be held accountable, which is why IAVA supports H.R. 1994 — the VA Accountability Act of 2015 — introduced by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman [mc_name name=’Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001144′ ] (R-Fla.).
The bipartisan legislation would build on the provision of the Veterans’ Access to Choice and Accountability Act (VACAA), passed last summer, giving the VA secretary the power to remove Senior Executive Service (upper management personnel) for poor performance or misconduct. The new legislation would expand that power further for the greater VA workforce, giving the secretary increased authority to remove those employees who are not meeting the standards of service that veterans deserve. Additionally, the legislation would shorten the appeal period and end what many veterans believe is a never-ending process to remove employees that may be damaging the department’s reputation and, even worse, putting veterans at risk.
Naturally, because this bill actually benefits people who might not be his vase, Obama threatened to veto the bill.
Yesterday, we, yet again, saw another example of the Senate serving no greater purpose than preventing Obama from having to veto popular legislation.
[mc_name name=’Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001277′ ] (D., Conn.) on Tuesday blocked an up-or-down vote on legislation meant to hold VA employees accountable for misconduct.
The Democratic lawmaker denied a motion for unanimous consent after [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] (R., Fla.), a GOP presidential candidate, brought the VA Accountability Act of 2015 to the Senate floor for immediate consideration.
This doesn’t kill the bill but it does make the likelihood of it being addressed in the near future extremely problematic due to the little time left on the legislative calendar.
The aptly named Dick Blumenthal, according to his statement, holds the belief that demanding high standards and obedience to regulations causes talented people to leave an organization. Blumenthal, is must be noted, claimed throughout his political career to have served in Vietnam when he did not do so.