The Obama administration wants to tweak some of the language in a bill that would give the veterans affairs secretary greater authority to fire senior executives, but it supports the general goals behind the legislation, according to an administration official.

The House passed the legislation on Wednesday with overwhelming bipartisan support: The final vote was 390 to 33.

The White House intends to work with Congress to address specific language in the bill that has raised concerns within the administration, according to the official, who requested anonymity to discuss an administration position that has not been announced publicly.


President Obama speaks after meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors on May 21 to discuss scheduling issues at the VA. (Charles Dharapak/AP).

“The administration shares and supports the goals of the bill — ensuring accountability at the VA,” the official said. “We do have some concerns that some provisions could result in significant litigation, which would divert valuable time and resources from VA’s accountability efforts and its core mission of delivering quality services to our veterans.”

The official did not elaborate on what language has raised concerns.

Critics of the bill have said it would strip senior executives of due process protections and deter top-caliber talent from joining the VA workforce.

But House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), who sponsored the measure, has argued that the VA is lax with accountability and that quality managers do not want to work in an environment where problems are tolerated.

It is unclear what the Senate will do with the legislation. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

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