From the battlefield to the home front, the House has no more sacred responsibility than to fulfill its commitments to the men and women who serve our nation. This week, the House will continue working to do just that with action on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs legislation that:
- Increases funding for veterans’ programs by $1.5 billion;
- Provides an additional $20 million above the president’s request to expedite the processing of VA disability claims; and
- Spends $1.8 billion less than last year’s funding bill, helping to protect taxpayers without compromising critical services for veterans.
This legislation is another step in House Republicans’ fight to bring real accountability to the Veterans Administration. Earlier this month, Speaker Boehner joined congressional leaders and veterans groups at an event on Capitol Hill backing the VA Management Accountability Act (H.R. 4031), legislation introduced by Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) that gives the VA Secretary more tools to deal with widespread management failures that have led to horror stories and even deaths within the VA. “The bleeding at VA can be stopped only by holding its leaders accountable. This means rewarding success, addressing failure and renewing the department’s focus on veterans. The VA Management and Accountability Act is a step in this direction,” says James Ferguson, a retired Marine Corps officer.
Speaker Boehner has also repeatedly called on the administration to resolve the claims backlog which has left hundreds of thousands of veterans awaiting benefits while VA managers have collected as much as $63,000 in bonus pay. The bill on the floor this week continues “rigorous reporting requirements to track the performance of each regional office on claims processing,” according to the House Appropriations Committee. The persistent backlog is “simply unacceptable,” says Boehner, “and it deserves our utmost attention.”
Oversight efforts continue in the Veterans’ Affairs Committee as well, where Chairman Miller has requested “a complete and thorough inspector general investigation” to get answers on the role of VA managers in the “pattern of preventable veteran deaths and patient safety incidents at VA medical centers across the country,” brought to light most recently with the scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital.
Follow @HouseVetAffairs on Twitter for more updates, and weigh in with your thoughts using the #VAaccountability hashtag.