U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law Friday a bill that will make it easier to fire Department of Veterans Affairs employees, a development that has union officials concerned the measure could be misused for political purposes.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act passed by Congress earlier this month streamlines the process to remove, demote, or suspend VA employees for poor performance or misconduct. The bill cleared the House last week by a vote of 368-55, and the Senate by voice vote. "The bill also establishes the Office of Accountability, which forbids the VA Secretary from retaliating against whistleblowers who have filed complaints within the VA general counsel's office".
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"So many great Veterans Service Organizations across the country supported this legislation and I am grateful for their help in getting it passed and signed into law". The new law will lower the burden of proof to fire employees, allowing for dismissal even if most evidence is in a worker's favor.
The bill was a rare Trump initiative that received Democratic support.
"Every veteran receiving care at VA facilities will now know that those entrusted with their care can be held responsible for their actions. We all remember the nightmare that veterans suffered during the VA scandals that were exposed a few years ago", Trump said. "It makes it just as easy to fire a good employee, an innocent employee, as it will be to fire a bad employee". "This historic bill is a significant step forward in the fight to correct the toxic VA culture and get veterans a step closer to the care they deserve", added CVA Executive Director Mark Lucas.
President Donald Trump (2nd L), first lady Melania Trump (L), and Vice President Mike Pence (R) applaud during a Congressional Picnic on the South Lawn of the White House Thursday in Washington, DC.