VA Secretary’s comments during VA budget hearing unbecoming

VA Secretary’s comments during VA budget hearing unbecoming

DENVER—VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald said in the VA budget hearing this morning that the VA cannot fire itself into excellency. In response Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said it would be a “good start.” Last week it was revealed the Colorado Springs VA clinic lied that veterans received appointments sooner than they actually did, and at least 288 veterans’ wait-time surpassed the 30-day target required by the federal government. Investigators are still unsure if the records were deliberately falsified to ameliorate the clinic’s performance. Coffman pushed for common-sense reforms and clawing back bonuses that are improperly given to employees.

Advancing Colorado Executive Director Jonathan Lockwood released the following statement:

“The VA secretary’s comments are unbecoming and his words show that the VA is not interested in reforms that will help protect our veterans. The lack of proper treatment, the lack of accountability in the VA and the lack of reforms enacted to change the perverse culture within the VA, has created a crisis that is hurting veterans.”

The VA Accountability Act must still pass the Senate and be signed by the president before becoming law. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill.

Last summer, the House of Representatives passed with bipartisan votes, 256-170, the VA Accountability Act of 2015. The bill will give the VA Secretary the ability to fire VA employees who are found to be incompetent, or who are found to have engaged in mismanagement or misconduct. The measure also protects whistleblowers.

During final passage of the House bill, Colorado Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis voted “NO” on the VA Accountability Act, while the rest of the Colorado delegation voted “YES.”