Isakson Applauds House Passage of VA Accountability Measure

Legislation heads to president’s desk to be signed into law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded U.S. House of Representatives passage of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, bipartisan legislation to improve accountability at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“I am thrilled that the House has passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act,” said Isakson. “I want to thank House leadership for quickly taking action and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Roe and Ranking Member Walz for their support of this critical issue. Now, with President Trump’s support, this bill is on its way to becoming the law of the land to help ensure that the VA is accountable to our nation’s veterans.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act was introduced by Isakson along with U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., ranking member of the Senate VA committee, on May 11.

The measure was passed by the Senate on Tuesday, June 6. Following Senate passage, President Trump tweeted his support of the measure, calling on the House to act quickly to send the bill to his desk to be signed into law.

Following today’s 368-55 vote, the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act will go to the president for his signature.

Background:

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act increases the VA’s authority to remove employees at all levels of the department, shortens the removal process and ensures an individual removed from the VA is not kept on the VA’s payroll while appealing that decision. It also makes it easier for the VA to remove poor performing senior executives and replace them with qualified candidates. Additionally, any appeals by senior VA executives would no longer be brought before the Merit Systems Protection Board, but instead would be handled directly by the VA secretary under an expedited timeline.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act also establishes in law the newly created Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA, which mirrors a proposal first introduced by Isakson in his Veterans First Act last Congress.

The legislation also includes a number of other provisions to hold employees accountable, including:

  • Requires the VA to evaluate supervisors based on the protection of whistleblowers;
  • Incentivizes managers to address poor performance and misconduct among employees by requiring the VA secretary to include this as part of the annual performance plan;
  • Prohibits bonuses for employees who have been found guilty of wrongdoing; and
  • Prohibits relocation expenses to employees who abuse the system.

A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.

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 The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.