Roundup: VA Accountability at The Capitol

John Boehner

Yesterday, as part of his push to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs, Speaker Boehner led an event at the Capitol with lawmakers and more than 60 veterans from around the country.  Citing cases in his own district, Boehner stressed the need to pass the VA Management Accountability Act, which tackles leadership problems that are making it harder to improve care and services for our veterans. 

Here’s a sample of the coverage the event has received across the country:

“Boehner backs bill to bring VA in line…House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday that the House will pass a bill bringing ‘real accountability’ to the agency by giving the secretary greater powers to dismiss or demote officials.’  At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner was joined by a group of veterans and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined GOP leaders and representatives of several veterans’ service organizations Thursday in the Capitol to discuss the legislation.  ‘There are some serious problems over at the VA,’ Boehner said during the news conference, and the legislation is ‘another tool’ to hold VA facilities accountable.” (Stars and Stripes)

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is throwing his support behind legislation that would give the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs the authority to fire underperforming executives. … Peter Hegseth, chief executive officer of Concerned Veterans for America, said millions of veterans ‘feel like second class citizens’ because of the way they’ve been treated by the VA.” (Military.com)

“In arguing for ‘real accountability’ at the U.S. Veterans Administration, House Speaker John Boehner Thursday used the Dayton VA Medical Center as an example of the ‘worst of government.’ … Boehner also said an Air Force veteran in Middletown has waited 20 months for disability benefits while the VA verifies that he’s married. ‘And guess what,’ the Speaker said. ‘He’s been married for 49 years.’” (Dayton Daily News)

“A push from the Speaker of the House and a continued stream of scandals involving Veterans Affairs administrators has pushed legislation to ease the firing of department officials onto the fast track. … It has gained support from conservatives in Congress and a range of veterans advocacy groups, who argue that top department leadership needs to do more to weed out bad actors.  In the last week, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has highlighted the legislation on the House floor and on social media.” (Air Force Times)

“Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has sponsored a companion bill in the Senate, said ‘all Americans deserve and expect a government that’s both accountable and effective.’  … Boehner said his district offices in Ohio handle more than 100 veteran cases each week…” (ABC News)

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the department isn’t doing to enough to terminate managers who are performing poorly or who have failed in their jobs.  He cited a once-substantial backlog in the department’s disability claims systems and a series of recent preventable deaths — by his count 31 — at VA medical centers across the country. In many cases, executives at those facilities still earned bonuses, he said.” (Federal News Radio)

“Boehner was flanked by representatives from veterans groups, such as the American Legion and Concerned Veterans for America, who support the bill.  ‘The key question is simple,’ said Pete Hegseth, the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America. ‘Who will you stand with: the vets who are being underserved or the bureaucrats who can’t be fired?’” (Washington Free Beacon)

“Channel 2 Action News has learned that Speaker of the House John Boehner wants to change a law that would make it easier to fire bad employees within the Department of Veterans Affairs.   The new bill would give VA Secretary Eric Shinseki more authority to punish and fire managers in situations like at the Atlanta VA where they find proof of mismanagement.”  (WSB-TV, Atlanta)

Veterans groups, including the American Legion and Concerned Veterans of America, back the legislation.  ‘This act will give the secretary of veterans affairs the freedom and the authority to manage his or her department as they see fit,’ American Legion official Louis Celli said at the news conference.” (The Washington Post

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