United for our Veterans

We’ve been talking a lot about unity this week. If last night’s Congressional Baseball Game for Charity were any indication, the People’s House is a family that respects each other — even when we disagree on policy.

Our bipartisanship was on full display earlier this week, when we fulfilled a promise to our veterans that we’d reform the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and help it become more focused on customer service.

In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, we passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, which gives the Secretary more flexibility to hold employees accountable, while protecting whistleblowers.

Check out some of the coverage:

Congress finalizes sweeping VA accountability bill

Congress sends bill to speed up disciplinary action at the VA to Trump

House approves bill creating more accountability at VA after string of scandals

Congress passes long-sought VA accountability bill

The People’s House is committed to world class care for world class service, and that starts with reforming the culture at the VA.

Here’s what House Republicans are saying about the House’s ongoing work to reform the VA:

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chair Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) at Stakeout:

“Today is a proud moment for our country. We are going to pass a veterans accountability bill which will give the Secretary — which he said was the single biggest priority that he had — the ability to discipline and to fire poor-performing employees. Almost all…employees at the VA are hardworking people who serve the best they can for veterans in this country. But that’s not always the case. …[this bill] will help our veterans get the best care that they earned and deserve.”

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) at Stakeout:

“What we’re doing at the VA is trying to instill that same type of team approach. What we have done with this bill — it’s fair, and it’s fair to the good people that work at the VA. There’s a process that’s fair. Whistleblowers are protected. And it allows for the core mission of executives and employees to be to serve those that have served us so well.”

Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) at Post-Passage Press Conference:

“These [veterans], every one of them that I know, were very willing to be a casualty of war. They should never, ever be a casualty of our VA. That’s what this bill is all about — making sure that they are treated like the most important patient to ever walk in the door of the VA every time that they walk in. That’s why this is such a great piece of legislation. You all did great work, Chairman.”

Rep. Scott Taylor (R-VA) at Post-Passage Press Conference

“We should never defend mediocrity at the VA. Instead, we should always strive for excellence. This is only the beginning, but I will tell you that I am extremely proud of Chairman Roe and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee…there is nothing small about the large challenges that we still face at the VA, but this piece of legislation does away with arcane civil service rules that prevented the VA from holding bad employees accountable.”

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL):

“With today’s vote in the House, we’re sending the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to the President’s desk. If a VA employee is involved in misconduct, they should be demoted, suspended, or fired, certainly not promoted or given a bonus. And if a VA employee sees misconduct and wants to report it, they should not fear repercussions. This bill is about refocusing the VA on its mission to serve our nation’s heroes.”

Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL):

“The vast majority of employees at the VA are honest and hardworking, and it’s unfair to the good employees when the VA refuses to or cannot hold bad actors accountable. Mismanagement and misconduct wouldn’t be accepted at any business or corporation, and it certainly shouldn’t be allowed at the VA. Our veterans deserve nothing but the best health care services and support after valiantly serving their country and protecting our freedoms.  That begins with each VA employee being held accountable for his or her job performance.  No hero should suffer because government bureaucrats failed to fulfill their responsibilities.”

Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) on the House floor:

“Since the day I was elected to Congress, I pledged to do everything in my power to help veterans receive the care and attention they deserve. Senate bill, S. 1094, would ensure that persons hired to care for the health and wellbeing of our veterans do so according to VA regulations, and those who fail in their duties are held accountable….This bill would help ensure that Puerto Rico’s limited VA facilities will be efficiently administered and make certain that the VA’s employees adhere to the standards of excellence our men and women in uniform expect.”

Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX):

“People all over this country—hard working Americans—get up every day, they go to work, they deliver results, and if they don’t, they lose their job. I was proud to cosponsor legislation that finally holds employees at the VA accountable to the same standards, and am pleased to report that the legislation passed the House today and is headed to the President’s desk for his signature. Our veterans were willing to risk their lives for our country, and we MUST ensure they are receiving the care they deserve.”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA):

“…pro-veteran initiatives show that the members of the House from both parties have a sincere desire to ensure that our veterans receive the quality care and attention that they deserve,” Dent said. “We must never grow complacent in our continuing efforts to make necessary reforms to the VA and fulfill the promises that our nation has made to our veterans. The innumerable sacrifices and the selfless dedication exemplified by the men and women in our armed forces can and should be met with a firm commitment to providing them with the highest standards of care and service

Rep. David Joyce (R-OH):

“I have spoken with too many veterans who are not receiving the care nor the answers they deserve. Instead, they are being bogged down by endless bureaucracies and feeling ignored. This bipartisan legislation gives VA Secretary David Shulkin the ability to deliver the type of care that our veterans deserve. Our Nation’s veterans have already given so much to us, and it must be one of our highest priorities to ensure they have access to the highest quality care they so duly have been demanding.”

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS):

“For too long our veterans have suffered under the bureaucracy of the VA. Some have literally died waiting in line for care, and no one at the VA is ever held responsible for their actions.  That changes today with the passage of the VA Accountability Act. The VA will finally, after many years, have the real ability to fire, demote or suspend bad employees. This is a huge victory for our veterans.”

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA):

“Our veterans risked sacrificing everything they had for the good our nation. Unfortunately, certain VA policies and procedures have prevented them from receiving the best care possible. If you’ve worn the uniform, you deserve the best treatment this country can offer.”