07.22.15

Rounds Applauds Committee Passage of Critical VA Accountability Reforms

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today applauded the committee’s passage of several pieces of legislation aimed at increasing accountability at the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and improving veterans’ benefits and health care.

“We have a duty to make certain the VA is properly managed so they can provide timely, quality care to our nation’s greatest heroes,” said Rounds. “I’m pleased the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee came together to pass meaningful reforms to the VA system. I will continue to work to keep the VA accountable. Our veterans deserve better than the current structure.”

The committee approved comprehensive accountability measures – the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act of 2015and a bill to prohibit the VA from granting bonuses to employees found guilty of misconduct – that seek to protect both veterans and taxpayers.

In addition, the committee today voted unanimously to approve the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2015 to boost veterans’ disability compensation to adjust for rising costs of living.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability Act of 2015 (S.1082) gives the secretary of the VA firing authority over any delinquent employee within the department. This legislation seeks to expand on a provision included in the Veterans’ Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 that gave the secretary firing authority over senior executives in light of the wait-time scandal that erupted in Phoenix, Ariz.

The second accountability measure passed by committee was S.627 to prevent the VA from awarding bonuses to negligent employees. The bill also gives the VA authority to rescind bonuses paid out to employees who are later found to have violated a department policy or law.

Additionally, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs approved the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery and Other Improvements Act (S.1203), an omnibus bill that includes several provisions to improve veterans’ health care and streamline veterans’ benefits services.

Each of the bills approved by the committee will now be reported favorably to the full Senate.