Lance Backs Reform Measure in Wake of VA Scandals
WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today supported S. 1094, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that will address many of the contributing factors to recent scandals at the Veterans Administration.
“In recent years we have seen the horrific stories of dozens of veterans dying while languishing on secret waiting lists and lines at VA hospitals across the country. Then-VA Secretary Robert McDonald compared the lines for care to Disneyland. The VA agency has careened from scandal to scandal since, from the theft and overprescription of opioids to having calls to the VA’s suicide hotline go unanswered. And some employees responsible for oversight of the VA were able to keep their jobs and their taxpayer-funded bonuses too. Our veterans deserve the best care, and instead the VA exhibits the worst of government bureaucracy. While the vast majority of VA employees are hard-working and dedicated, because VA often fails to hold individuals who are not fulfilling their duties accountable for their actions, these bad actors taint the reputation of the department as a whole. It’s time to change that,” said Lance.
The bipartisan VA reform bill S. 1094 will:
• Streamline the process to remove, demote, or suspend VA employees for poor performance or misconduct. The Secretary will also be able to recoup taxpayer-funded bonuses from employees who have acted improperly;
• Expand protections for whistleblowers and bar the VA from removing an employee who has an open complaint; and
• Because of all this ongoing uncertainty, many VA hospitals have acting medical directors. The bill will give the VA Secretary the authority to appoint permanent medical directors who can provide the steady leadership that VA hospitals and their patients need.
The Senate passed this legislation earlier this month and enjoys strong grassroots support from veterans’ service organizations. After passage in the House, the bill moves to the President’s desk for his signature into law.
“Today’s action will bring us one step closing to better care and better results for our veterans. And with real accountability, we can begin to make the real changes needed to fix the VA once and for all,” concluded Lance.