Veterans Affairs officials will stop using streamlined disciplinary powers to punish senior department executives after another legal challenge to the congressionally backed process, Capitol Hill officials said Friday.
The move all but resets VA accountability rules to two years ago, when the expedited removal authority was approved by lawmakers in the wake of the department’s wait times scandal.
It also provides new urgency for a series of VA-related accountability bills stalled in Congress, given elected officials’ belief that department leaders have not been aggressive enough in dealing with misbehavior and possible criminal activity among VA employees.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., called the department’s decision infuriating.
“It is outrageous and unconscionable that the VA is choosing to blatantly ignore all of the accountability reforms set in place by the Veterans Choice Act,” he said. “Two years ago, veterans were forced to wait far too long for care because of incompetent executives. Since then, we’ve seen scandal after scandal emerge at the department.
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