The AFGE union, which represents most employees of the VA, has said a newly offered bipartisan proposal in the Senate (S-1094) on disciplinary and appeals practices at the department would leave too much power in the hands of management.

“This legislation is the antithesis of accountability because it would allow corrupt or incompetent managers to get away with firing anyone who challenges them. Real accountability would strengthen, not weaken, protections for the rank-and-file employees who are subjected to mismanagement, abuse, and political corruption,” AFGE president J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement.

The measure would shorten disciplinary timeframes and lower the burden of proof required to support a disciplinary action on appeal to the MSPB: an agency decision would stand even if supported only by “substantial” evidence, not the majority. While the negotiated grievance process would remain available as a route to challenge discipline, it too would be changed in those ways.

“All this legislation does is hand more power to the VA executives and political appointees who failed our veterans in the first place by creating fake wait lists and hiding an outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ disease. Why are we rewarding incompetent leaders by giving them more opportunities to throw rank-and-file workers under the bus?” he said.

A similar but more restrictive bill (HR-1259) passed the House earlier this year but has not advanced in the Senate.