Trump signs VA reform bill, making good on a campaign promise

Posted June 24, 2017

At the VA medical center in the southwestern city of Phoenix, Arizona, some veterans died in 2014 while awaiting treatment.

The "VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017" makes permanent an office created by a Trump executive order earlier this year to look into claims made by whistleblowers and to protect them from retaliation.

"What happened was a national disgrace and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls", Trump said.

Improving the scandal-ridden VA was a campaign promise of President Trump's.

While holding private-sector employees accountable is common, many government employees - particularly those working at the Department of Veterans Affairs - have abused the system.

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Unions representing some VA workers, including the American Federation of Government Employees, are concerned the measure could be abused for political reasons.

The legislation, which many veterans' groups supported, cleared the House last week by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 368 to 55, replacing an earlier version that Democrats had criticized as overly unfair to employees. 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. "So both parties really had to come together but finally you have a president, President Trump, that agreed with the house and senate majority to pass this".

"Every veteran receiving care at VA facilities will now know that those entrusted with their care can be held responsible for their actions". It passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote. Until today, the VA Secretary has not had the necessary authority to discipline or fire bad department employees quickly. "It's a reform that I campaigned on, and now I am thrilled to be able to sign that promise into law", Trump said. Shulkin, who served as an undersecretary in the VA in the Obama administration, supports the legislation Trump signed Friday.

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.