Several members of the United States Senate have stepped up in a big way to bring accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and ensure veterans are properly taken care of. On March 2, 2017, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability First Act of 2017. This bill is a companion piece to the VA Accountability Act of 2017 that just passed the House in March with bipartisan support. Special shout out to those in the House that put partisan politics aside and voted to care for veterans over bureaucrats.
Now it’s the Senate’s turn to move on this necessary piece of legislation. Nine senators signed on as early co-sponsors of the bill – Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Sen. Todd Young of Indiana, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Sen. Steve Daines of Montana.They were soon followed by five more cosponsors – Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas.
Arizona specifically has seen an unacceptable amount of misconduct from VA employees and almost no discipline from the massive and corrupt bureaucracy. Wait times are still being manipulated and quality of care is still an issue at VA facility across the country. Three years after the Phoenix VA scandal broke, progress and reform are still desperately needed. Employees are practicing inappropriate scheduling procedures, veterans are mistreated as they wait for an appointment, and cases of opioid theft are on the rise. And those are just the instances of abuse that have come to light in the last several weeks.
So far 14 senators have quickly reacted to these stories and reports by backing legislation that puts an end to the toxic VA culture. Employees will be held responsible for their actions, and whistleblowers will be protected. We thank the senators who have stood up for veterans so far and encourage others to join in and protect those who have protected us.
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