House votes ease rules for firing VA employees


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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.

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7 comments

  • Tom Billings

    My Mother ran the VA food services at their Portland hospital till 1980, when she retired. She used to tell the story of firing a lettuce chopper. He was coming into work drunk so often that he was hurting himself with the chopping instruments, and then taking sick leave for weeks, because sousing himself with alcohol slowed healing. She finally fired him, and the appeals processes began. She had to carry him through alcohol rehab, which did no good, and retraining, and further Union-led appeals, till she finally saw him out the door 18 months after starting the firing. Meanwhile he depressed morale in the rest of the kitchen bitching about how she “had it in for him”.

    The worst thing is that I understand those are now looked on as “the good old days” by those who must fire such a person from the VA today. Perhaps these changes will do some good. Until the Public Employee Unions are removed, I doubt it will help much. Thus, IMHO, we should simply banish the VA to the history museum of socialist failures.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    Anyone think Obama will sign this bill should it survive an attempt by the Senate minority leader to filibuster it?

  • Garry

    An Obama veto was my first thought as well, but if the sponsors survive the election and have backbone (far from a sure thing), they may have a chance to resubmit it to President Trump. I’m no fan of the guy, but in a case like this, I have more confidence in his desirability than in Hillary’s.

    I’m more and more inclined to hold my nose and vote for him, which I’m used to doing in every post Reagan election, but this vote may require that I wear a hazmat suit in addition to holding my nose.

  • wayne

    Tom/ DK/ Garry–
    -many good points, all.
    Garry– yes, excellent analogy. Complete hazmat suit… (damn..an Iron-Man Suit!)

    Ryan has allowed, occasionally, the House to crank out some good legislation and the Conservative Caucus has kept up pressure, but its largely been ineffective.
    Then, these Bills have to go to the Senate, and Mitch is in no hurry to push anything through, and Mitch/Ryan do NOT do clean-bills or over-rides of anything Obama does.

    The House can always pass this type of Legislation and present it to a President Trump, at any time.
    (I would maintain however, “Washington is well beyond the ability to actually reform itself.” Personally, I’m getting actively involved in the Article 5 Movement, no matter who gets elected, ‘cuz one election won’t fix this & we can’t just give up after we vote in November. It’s that important.)

  • Steve Earle

    wayne said:
    “…(I would maintain however, “Washington is well beyond the ability to actually reform itself.” Personally, I’m getting actively involved in the Article 5 Movement, no matter who gets elected, ‘cuz one election won’t fix this & we can’t just give up after we vote in November. It’s that important.)…”

    Correct. When is the last time a Federal Agency (or State for that matter) went away?

    The VA, the poster child for why single-payer is a bad idea, needs to be abolished. The IRS needs to be abolished. The Commerce, Energy, and Education agencies all need to be abolished. ETC ETC ETC

    Will President Trump do any of that? I doubt it. And if he can’t as a “change-agent”, then who ever could?

    Wayne is right, the Convention will be our last hope of bringing sanity back to an insane government….

  • wayne

    Steve Earle–

    Right with you on all this!

    (One of) the first thing we do, is repeal the 17th Amendment.

    The House is elected by the People, the Senate is supposed to represent individual States, not be popularly elected & morph into “National Senators.” They are not even constrained by the States they claim to represent.

    The Federal Government is a creation of the States, and at this juncture, only the States can fix it.

    –Another proposed Amendment, is “12 year term limits,” for all Federal Offices, including the Judiciary. And that’s 12 years combined, between any office. None of this “get elected and stay for infinity” stuff.
    I’m perfectly willing to give up “accumulated Institutional knowledge,” for the reason, they have demonstrated time-and-again, they can’t be trusted to act in the best interests of the people.

  • Edward

    Steve Earle asked: “When is the last time a Federal Agency (or State for that matter) went away?”

    The only one that I am aware of is the NRA, National Recovery Administration. It went away when the Supreme court ruled that it was unconstitutional. However, it may have been reincarnated as the National Labor Relations Board, so I don’t know whether that counts as “went away.”

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