Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced a slew of bills this week that he had introduced in previous sessions of Congress, one of which would make it easier to fire Department of Veterans Affairs employees for misconduct or poor performance.
Rubio said that the legislation, known as the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act (S. 152), would help to modernize the agency. Among the provisions of the bill (as it was written on last introduction) include strengthening protections for whistleblowers, increasing flexibility to remove VA employees for poor performance or misconduct, and reforming the VA’s disability benefits appeals process.
The legislation reflects the concern of some in the Senate about the need to reform the VA. In December, Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter to vice president elect Mike Pence highlighting concerns they had about the agency, among which included unreasonable wait times at facilities, veteran suicides, misconduct by agency management, or mistreatment of whistleblowers.
In discussing the reintroduced legislative bills, Senator Rubio said that he hopes that under a new Congress they will be more likely to pass.
“Now that Republicans control the Senate, House and White House, it is my hope that we can pass these – and many other – meaningful, commonsense solutions to the problems facing our country,” said Rubio.