The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would give the Department of Veterans Affairs greater authority to fire or demote senior executives for perceived performance problems.
VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has made clear that he doesn’t think the measure is necessary to hold officials properly accountable, but it allows lawmakers to go on the record supporting strong consequences for managers who oversee troubled programs within the embattled agency.
The House voted 390-33 in favor of the bill, which was sponsored by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.). Republicans voted unanimously for the legislation, while all but 33 Democrats supported it.
Critics have said the measure would strip senior executives of due process protections and deter top-caliber talent from working for the VA. But Miller has argued that poor performers have faced virtually no serious consequences and that quality managers do not want to work in an environment where problems are tolerated.
The bill became increasingly popular in the wake of recent allegations that VA hospitals throughout the country have falsified their appointment records to hide treatment delays.
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