Trump to sign VA reform bill, making good on a campaign promise

Trump to sign VA reform bill, making good on a campaign promise

Trump to sign VA reform bill, making good on a campaign promise

President Donald Trump will make good on a campaign promise Friday, June 23, 2017 when he signs a bill that gives leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs more power to fire failed employees and protect those who uncover wrongdoing at the agency.

The law, called the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, makes the process by which VA Secretary David Shulkin can fire an employee simpler by affording him more authority to get rid of employees and shortening the review process for said firing. The bill passed 368-55 in the House and was approved unanimously in the Senate.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, applauded the move, saying, "In a nasty, partisan environment like we've never seen, veterans' issues can be a unique area for Washington to unite in actually getting things done for ordinary Americans".

In reality, it is the first step of many reforms that the men hope will better serve the nation's more than 20 million veterans. "Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who today we are finally changing those laws", Trump said. It would also shorten the appeals process for VA employees should they be accused of malfeasance to 180 days. That's why we are where we are now, i.e. on the verge of another major change of direction in health care policy.

The new law comes after years of chaos, including a scandal at the Phoenix VA, where some veterans reportedly died waiting for care.

But now, with strong Republican majorities in both chambers and a staunch pro-veteran President in the White House, we are taking swift action to end the atrocious failures.

Unions representing some VA workers, including the American Federation of Government Employees, are concerned the measure could be abused for political reasons. It is promising, however, that other veteran protection laws signed by President Trump, such as the Veterans Choice Improvement Act, have improved the experience of veterans seeking medical care provided by the VA. "Real accountability would strengthen, not weaken, protections for the rank-and-file employees who are subjected to mismanagement, abuse and political corruption". VA has a sacred mission of caring for injured veterans, for people who paid their dues on the battlefield.

Gardner said upon the Senate's passage of the bill that he was "thrilled" and that he looked forward to the president signing the bill.

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