High-ranking congressional legislators from both parties have reached an agreement on a measure letting the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees more quickly.
The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, presented by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Montana, and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., would give VA Secretary David Shulkin additional authority to discipline or terminate employees, and shorten appeal times for employees charged with misconduct or poor performance.
"The challenges at the VA are many," Tester, the senior Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, told NBC Montana. "But tough problems require common sense solutions, and this bipartisan bill is a product of what happens when you put aside politics and work together. This bill will make the VA stronger and ensure it can better deliver for Montana veterans."
"To fully reform the VA and provide our nation's veterans with the quality care they were promised and deserve, we must ensure the department can efficiently dismiss employees who are not able or willing to do their jobs," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement announcing the agreement to The Washington Post.
Shulkin told the Post in an interview that "the big issue is, is there a way to ensure that the right people can be removed but you can still maintain due process for all employees?"
He added that although problem workers are a "small minority of employees," that some management members at VA hospitals are frequently shuffled "because it's too difficult to remove them."
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