"What happened was a national disgrace", Trump said, "and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls".
In the past several years, VA's civil service rules have kept the department from firing an employee who engaged in an armed robbery; from recouping $400,000 in relocation benefits from two senior employees who abused their authority; and from holding employees accountable for their failures to manage major construction projects, including the new hospital in Aurora, Colorado, that is now several years and almost a billion dollars over-budget. Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable.
The measure has broad bipartisan support and is part of an effort encouraged by Trump to fix an agency that provides health care and other services to millions of veterans.
Friday's law passed through Congress in recent weeks and is the result of an executive order Trump issued in April, which created a federal office to address accountability and whistleblower protection.
The VA scandal during the Obama administration engulfed the department, leading to the resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki after CNN uncovered the existence of a secret scheduling list at the VA in Phoenix. "So both parties really had to come together but finally you have a president, President Trump, that agreed with the house and senate majority to pass this". The bill also saw significant approval in the Senate.
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The bill was a rare Trump initiative that received Democratic support.
Right now, it takes up to 264 days for an appeal to move through the process when trying to remove a bad employee. It will also increase protections for whistleblowers to help make certain that they are not retaliated against for speaking up about wrongdoings at the department.
"Every veteran receiving care at VA facilities will now know that those entrusted with their care can be held responsible for their actions". Critics say few employees are fired for malfeasance.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, called the bill signing "a significant step to reform the VA with a renewed goal and ability to serve our veterans".