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The House today voted 310-116 to make it easier to fire or punish employees of the Veterans Administration.
Rep. Mark Takano (Calif.), the VA committee’s ranking Democrat, led an unsuccessful floor fight to soften the misconduct provisions, as the Republican majority defeated every substantive amendment. In the end, with Miller citing support from 18 prominent veteran groups, 69 Democrats joined the united Republican front to pass the bill convincingly.
It would shorten the process to fire, demote or hear the appeal of rank-and-file VA employees, from an average of more than a year to no more than 77 days. It also would end involvement of the Merit Systems Protection Board in such actions for VA senior executives; give the VA secretary authority to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses from employees who misbehave, or to reduce pensions of senior executives convicted of felonies that influenced their performance reports. Additionally whistleblowers would get new protections from reprisals and the bill would mandate strict accountability to supervisors or colleagues who would reprise against them, the VA committee explained.
This bill should become the model for changing the rules for all federal employees. Right now it is so difficult to clean house of corrupt or incompetent federal employees that there are even circumstances where they actually commit crimes and steal federal money and still hold onto their jobs.