On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014 (H.R. 4031) with final vote of 390-33 and was applauded by Concerned Veterans for America (CVA).
H.R. 4031 intent is to empower the VA Secretary to fire and replace failing executives and managers, after numerous reports of veterans dying in VA hospitals due to mismanagement, secret lists, and lack of accountability.
Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), an influential veterans organization said after the passage, “The VA Management Accountability Act's overwhelming and bipartisan passage in the House is the first step on the road to accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs… and is a sign that members on both sides of the aisle understand the urgent need to restore trust in the scandal-plagued VA.”
"Kudos to Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, who worked to introduce this bill, champions it, and got it passed. And thank you to the American Legion, AMVETS, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America for their early and vocal support of the bill,” said Hegseth.
In early May 2014, The American Legion, who represents over 2 million veterans have been calling for the resignation of more VA leaders, including Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Due to the VA scandal in Phoenix, American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said, “This move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual. Dr. Petzel was already scheduled to retire this year, so his resignation now really won’t make that much of a difference.”
“Meanwhile, Secretary Shinseki and Under Secretary Hickey remain on the job. They are both part of VA's leadership problem, and we want them to resign as soon as possible. This isn't personal. VA needs a fundamental shift in leadership if it is to defeat its systemic lack of accountability,” said Dellinger.
While the passage by the House was a huge victory, Hegseth said, “This is a historic move by the House, but the fight is not over. We will remain vigilant as the bill moves to the Senate, where Sen. Marco Rubio's companion version awaits action. The VA has proven that reform is not going to come from within, so we're glad that the House has stepped up to demand accountability and we look to the Senate to do the same.”
In late breaking news on Thursday, the U.S. Senate lead by U.S. Senator Reid blocked the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014 as reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
The Washington Free Beacon reported that Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) had asked for consent to take up and pass the Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, a bill that would make it easier and possible for the scandal-plagued department to fire employees based on poor performance.
However, Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs objected to the bill and on behalf of Senate Democrats to Rubio’s request, the bill was blocked.
Although the passage of H.R. 4031 was nearly unanimous, Sanders said he is going to hold a hearing several weeks from now even though the bill should have passed immediately in the Senate.