Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) voted in support of S. 1094 – the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This bipartisan legislation provides the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) flexibility to remove VA employees for performance or misconduct, adds protections for whistleblowers, and increases accountability measures for VA Senior Executive Service employees. This passed the House by a vote of 368-55.
“We must continue to ensure that the VA provides our heroes with the best possible care,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “As the Representative of more veterans than any other district in New York, I have prioritized veterans’ issues through casework and through my legislative work in Congress. This important reform will increase accountability standards at the VA. I encourage anyone who is struggling with the VA to contact my offices so that we can help.”
S. 1094 – Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act
Summary: The legislation provides the Secretary of Veterans Affairs flexibility to remove VA employees for performance or misconduct, adds protections for whistleblowers, and increases accountability and performance measures for VA Senior Executive Service employees. Key provisions of the legislation include:
- Expands the SES removal authority to all VA employees
- Authorizes the secretary to remove, demote, or suspend for longer than 14 days without pay, subject to an appeal of their removal or demotion to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), for most non-senior executive service employees. The MSBP would then have 180 days to complete an expedited appeal and render a final decision, subject to judicial review by the U.S. Federal Circuit.
- Protects whistleblowers from retaliation by not allowing the Secretary to use this authority to fire employees who have filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), until their complaints are resolved and/or finalized