President Trump today signed the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 , which in part, is designed to speed up the process to discipline employees for misconduct and put more decision-making power in the hands of Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. The act is in response to the 2014 VA scandals involving long wait times for medical care and attempts by VA employees to cover up the delays.
“For many years, the government failed to keep its promises to our veterans. We all remember the nightmare that veterans suffered during the VA scandals that were exposed a few years ago,” Trump said during remarks in the East Room of the White House. “Veterans were put on secret wait lists, given the wrong medication, given the bad treatments, and ignored in moments of crisis for them,” he said. “Many veterans died waiting for a simple doctor’s appointment. What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls. Outdated laws kept the government from holding those who failed our veterans accountable.” “Today,” Trump said, “we are finally changing those laws.”
The law won bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, and comes after years of horror stories about the VA, including those that found dozens of veterans died or were seriously injured because of long wait times at hospitals across the country. Few, if any VA employees were fired after it became known that staff members had altered and falsified records about the agency’s performance, and the level of care given to US veterans.
The passage of this law fulfills one of the Presidents campaign promises to reform the troubled agency.