Trump signs 'historic' bill to transform VA

Posted June 24, 2017

Bill Nelson (D-Florida), gives the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, the ability to recoup bonuses awarded to employees who are found to have engaged in misconduct, and reduce the pensions of VA employees found guilty of felonies related to their employment at VA.

President Donald Trump on Friday signed a new law to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire disruptive employees and protect whistleblowers.

The VA garnered controversy in 2014 when several veterans died while waiting for care.

"In just a short time we've already achieved transformative change at the VA, and believe me, we're just getting started", Trump said. The VA is the second-largest department in the U.S. government, with more than 350,000 employees, and it is charged with providing health care and other services to military veterans.

Prior to his current position, Shulkin served as an under secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration from 2015-2017. It passed the Senate by a unanimous voice vote.

Today the president signed into law my bill, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act.

The bill was a rare Trump initiative that received Democratic support.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal employee union, opposed the bill.

Right now, it takes up to 264 days for an appeal to move through the process when trying to remove a bad employee.

"Every veteran receiving care at VA facilities will now know that those entrusted with their care can be held responsible for their actions. We all remember the nightmare that veterans suffered during the VA scandals that were exposed a few years ago", Trump said.

Trump said that "one of my great joys" during his presidential campaign was "all the time spent ... meeting with our nation's veterans."

The VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 passed the Senate on June 7 with support from both of Colorado's senators, Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, called the bill signing "a significant step to reform the VA with a renewed objective and ability to serve our veterans". For the Trump administration Fridays signing ceremony checked off as yet another fulfillment of a campaign promise.