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Trump signs law to make VA more accountable for vets' care

24 June 2017

In the past several years, VA's civil service rules have kept the department from firing an employee who engaged in an armed robbery; from recouping $400,000 in relocation benefits from two senior employees who abused their authority; and from holding employees accountable for their failures to manage major construction projects, including the new hospital in Aurora, Colorado, that is now several years and almost a billion dollars over-budget.

"Our veterans have fulfilled their duty to our nation and now we must fulfill our duty to them", Trump said during a White House ceremony.

President Trump is scheduled to sign legislation Friday created to protect whistleblowers while making it easier to fire problem employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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"Those entrusted with the sacred duty of serving our veterans will be held accountable for the care they provide", Mr. Trump said. "Today, we are finally changing those laws ... to make sure that the scandal of what we suffered so recently never, ever happens again". The law also shortens the review period for new hires and offers protections to employees who complain about wrongdoing within the agency. Over the last several years, Congress has passed several reform bills with bipartisan support, only to see these bills die in the Senate.

"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".

Shulkin pushed for this kind of reform bill during his confirmation process and in the first months of his tenure, arguing that the department was "still in critical condition" and more accountability was needed to improve the treatment veterans receive.

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The Veterans Affairs bill was backed by Shulkin, who had called the department's employee accountability process "clearly broken". Critics say few employees are fired for malfeasance. "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 signs the "Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017" in the East Room of the White House, Friday, June 23, 2017, in Washington.

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Trump signs law to make VA more accountable for vets' care