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Legislative SitRep: Big Victory this Week

Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): On Thursday, the House of Representatives, passed the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act” (H.R. 5620). This bill ensures greater accountability at the VA and reforms the appeals process for VA disability benefits. This bill, introduced by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL), is a broader bill than a stricter VA Accountability bill that the Senate had failed to act on.

Our Recent Action: IAVA-backed this bill and earlier this week, we contacted all 435 House Members asking for their support.

The Weeds: The “VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act” (H.R. 5620) strengthens the VA Secretary’s ability to hold employees accountable for mismanagement or misconduct. The large majority of VA employees serve veterans with distinction, but there are employees whose poor performance or, at worst, gross negligence put veterans at risk. They need to be immediately removed from the VA to restore trust within the VA system. Shockingly, it takes six months to a year, or longer, to remove a permanent civil servant in the federal government.

This legislation also provides many improvements to the disability compensation appeals process desperately needed at the VA to better manage the appeals backlog. Reducing burdensome red tape will better serve veterans and their families and will improve efficiency within the VA. Veterans have made great sacrifices in service to our nation, and IAVA believes they deserve a VA that can provide the level of care they have earned.

Next steps: IAVA will push for the bill in the Senate and are hopeful that it will pass since the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Democrat Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced his support for the bill.

We need the Senate to take up and pass H.R. 5620 NOW!

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