The House is scheduled to vote this week on HR-5620, under which most VA employees would receive only 10 days of notice of discipline rather than 30, and MSPB would have to issue a final decision within 60 days; employees would retain the right to appeal from there into federal court, but the scope of court review would be more limited. SES members would get only five days to respond to disciplinary actions and their appeals would go to newly created review boards consisting of three departmental officials who would have to issue decisions within 21 days or else the discipline would stand automatically. Further, the board would have to uphold the action even if there is only “substantial” evidence to support it and the action is within the “tolerable bounds of reasonableness.” The VA secretary could overturn any decision in the individual’s favor, and there would be only limited court review. A bill pending in the Senate also would target VA employee appeal rights, although it would not be as restrictive. Leaders on veterans issues have been pushing to get a final compromise version enacted before the upcoming congressional recess through the elections but it is increasingly doubtful that can be done in the short time remaining. The Obama administration opposes the personnel policy changes in the House bill but did not explicitly threaten a veto.
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