WASHINGTON — Today, the House passed H.R. 5620, the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act of 2016. H.R. 5620 is a comprehensive accountability bill that would allow the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to swiftly and fairly remove employees who are harming veterans and hurting the credibility of VA, recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from failing employees, and reduce pensions of senior executives convicted of felonies that influenced their job performance.
The legislation would also increase protections for whistleblowers at VA and reform the disability benefits appeals process. After passage of the bill, Congressman French Hill (AR-02) released the following statement:
"Plain and simple: VA remains a mess. Despite a multi-year effort from Congress and veterans service organizations to clean it up, the corruption and general lack of accountability that led to one of the largest healthcare scandals in American history still exists within the department. If VA wants to move past this low point its own history, the secretary needs the ability to swiftly remove those who care more about their own personal gain than they do about aiding our veterans. Today’s vote gives the secretary that authority, while also protecting the rights of those at VA already working to fix the department and its reputation. The Senate and president needs to follow the House’s lead by committing to principles that will restore veterans’ trust in the institution that’s charged with delivering them the care and benefits they have earned."