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After Rubio’s Push For Greater Accountability, Senate Passes VA Reform Bill

Jun 11, 2014 | Press Releases

Rubio: “The one I am proudest of, the whole bill is important, but the one I’ve been working on personally, the one that we’ve been engaged in making this happen, is accountability. Giving the Secretary the power to hire and to fire those mid-level bureaucrats that are not doing their job. That’s an important measure, I’m glad it’s included in this.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate passed H.R.3230, as amended with the text of S.2450, Veterans’ Access to care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, a veterans reform bill that includes language from legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) aimed to increase accountability in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Prior to the Senate’s passage, Rubio delivered a floor speech highlighting the importance of empowering the VA Secretary with complete authority to fire or demote VA Senior Executive Service (SES) or equivalent employees based on performance.

Video from today’s floor speech is available here.

Excerpts are available below:

“And the second issue that is just as critically important for our country is the well-documented problems at the Veterans Administration. And I don’t need to go into a long dissertation here about how our men and women who have served us so honorably and so bravely in uniform deserve the very best care possible. And it’s been well documented the long waiting lists, but even more importantly or even more tragically, efforts among some at the VA to cover all of this up, to cover their tracks, and to cover up their incompetence.

“Let me be clear ? the enormous majority ? the vast majority, of the men and women who work at the VA work hard and do a good job, but there are too many that do not and there’s not enough accountability with regards to that. As I said a couple of weeks ago when I came to the floor and tried to pass a measure to deal with that, a companion from the issue that had passed in the House, you’re likelier to get a promotion or a bonus than you are to get demoted or fired for not doing your job at the VA.”

“In a moment, I anticipate that a number of senators will come to the floor, senators who I thank for allowing me to work with them to make this possible, and we’ll have an announcement to make with regards to votes on the veterans bill. That’s great news, and the men and women who have served us deserve this progress. There’s no claim that this is going to solve every problem in the world, but it is an important first step. And I thank Senators McCain and Sanders and Burr and Coburn and others for all the work they’ve done on this issue.”

“Our men and women who have served us thank them. And the people of Florida thank them. We are a state with an enormous number of veterans. This is an important issue.

“And it was great ? I hope ? I wish people could have seen how people worked across party lines to get this done, the effort. Everyone’s got great ideas about things they to want see added to it, about things they’d like to see in addition to what’s been included, but we all understand a sense of urgency about addressing this issue. And as a result, we all have ideas we wanted to pursue but we were all willing to put aside those things for another debate at another day in order to get this done. We need more of that in the United States Senate. We need more of that in the United States government. And I thank the senators who have worked so hard to make this happen. And my colleague in the House, Jeff Miller, for the work he has done in terms of bringing this forward as well. He’s done a fantastic job.”

“On the Veterans Administration issue, on which I see that a number of senators have now arrived and potentially have an announcement for us, we have made great progress. The one I am proudest of, the whole bill is important, but the one I’ve been working on personally, the one that we’ve been engaged in making this happen, is accountability. Giving the Secretary the power to hire and to fire those mid-level bureaucrats that are not doing their job. That’s an important measure. I’m glad it’s included in this. I’m glad the Senate will be moving forward on this in a few moments and hopefully later today. Our men and women deserve better.”