Sen. McCaskill proposes whistleblower-protection bill for VA

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) will introduce legislation Tuesday that would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees who retaliate against whistleblowers, according to her office.

The move comes as the Office of Special Counsel is investigating nearly 70 complaints of reprisals against VA workers, many of whom tried to report problems related to the agency’s falsification of appointment records to hide treatment delays. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said at a congressional hearing on Wednesday that the number of VA cases has grown almost daily.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) speaks on Capitol Hill during a hearing. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

White House adviser Rob Nabors, whom President Obama ordered to review the VA health network in the wake of the scheduling scandal, said last month that the VA is suffering from a “corrosive culture” of employee discontent and management retaliation.

McCaskill said in an announcement set for release on Friday that her bill would help foster change for the VA.”This bill requires the firing of any VA employee found to have retaliated against a whistleblower—no ifs, ands or buts—and I’m hopeful it will be a step in the right direction to change the culture of the VA and ensure our veterans are receiving the highest level of care,” she said.

Four Department of Veterans Affairs employees on Tuesday testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee about their experiences with retaliation, with several of them saying whistle-blower protection issues are as widespread and problematic as the scheduling scandal.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.
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