U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville vehemently criticized the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ decision to disregard the VA Accountability Act, a bipartisan law that permitted the swift termination of VA employees for misconduct. It led to the firing of more than 4,000 VA employees found neglecting the care of veterans.
Misconduct in mind by leaders who ushered the legislation forward included a VA employee who committed armed robbery, but returned to work as a clerk at the facility after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors.
As the Alabama representative on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Tuberville (R-Auburn) has been at the forefront of VA reforms, with two of his proposed bills becoming law under President Biden’s tenure.
The VA Accountability Act, officially known as The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, was created in the wake of the Phoenix VA wait list crisis. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and John Tester (D-Mont.) with 39 cosponsors did something about it.
“It’s our sacred duty to take care of our veterans. I believe most people at the VA try to do that every day… But the fact is, we’ve had some abuses going on for a long time. And we all know that… During the Obama years, we had veterans dying on waiting lists. VA employees lied to cover it up. It was horrible,” Tuberville said at a VA committee hearing today.
Passage of the VA Accountability Act of 2017 allowed VA to cut through cumbersome bureaucratic processes to hold bad employees accountable in an expedited manner, providing VA employees with a healthier workplace, and rapidly increasing veterans’ trust in VA.
“These people have no business getting a paycheck from the taxpayer. It’s absolutely—it’s criminal,” Tuberville said.
“This law is still on the books. But for some reason, somebody has reached a settlement with trial lawyers and we’re not enforcing it anymore. The law is still on the books. That’s not how our Constitution works the last time I looked at it.”
In response, the VA’s Chief Human Capital Officer, Tracey Therit, acknowledged the need for improvement.
Grayson Everett is the state and political editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270