Trump signs bill to protect whistleblowers, expedite firing of Veterans Affairs employees

Trump signs bill to protect whistleblowers, expedite firing of Veterans Affairs employees

At the VA medical center in the southwestern city of Phoenix, Arizona, some veterans died in 2014 while awaiting treatment.

The Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act is created to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs by expediting the firing process for poorly performing employees, and ensuring appropriate protections for whistleblowers.

"What happened was a national disgrace and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls", Trump said.

Under the new law, protections for whistleblowers will be expanded and the VA will be prevented from dismissing an employee who has an open complaint against the department. Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable. The VA is the government's second-largest department, providing health care and other services to millions of veterans.

Trump says the law, which received support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, represents one of the biggest reforms to the VA in a generation or more.

More news: Trump disputes Russian interference in 2016 election

The measure passed the House by a 368-55 vote earlier this month.

The bill also would allow the VA to take back bonuses paid to employees found guilty of misconduct and would prohibit employees who are appealing discipline from being placed on paid administrative leave. The Senate bill calls for a longer appeal process than the House version - 180 days versus 45 days.

Shulkin said this new law would "make it easier and quicker to hold our employees accountable". It lowers the standard of evidence needed to fire employees.

"We won't be able to accomplish any of the reforms we need to in the VA if we don't get the right people in place", said VA Secretary David Shulkin, who with the support of the President, has pressed ahead with internal changes. These bad employees are failing in their duty to serve our nation's veterans, many without disciplinary action, and something needs to be done.

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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