Companion bills offered in the House (HR-2047) and Senate (S-1117) would apply to nearly all VA employees the revisions to disciplinary policies enacted last year applying to senior executives there. Those changes give the VA power to act more quickly, especially in matters of misconduct, shorten the notice and appeals process for employees to challenge such actions, and remove rights to appeal beyond an initial decision at MSPB, among other changes. The sponsor of the Senate version is Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The measure would go somewhat farther than one (HR-1994) introduced recently by the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.; the backing of those two key leaders virtually ensures that the idea will receive serious consideration on both sides of Congress. Meanwhile, in approving the appropriations bill funding the VA, the House accepted an amendment that would bar any performance awards in fiscal 2016 to the VA’s SES members, who traditionally receive about 1 percent of the total awards paid at the department. The actions are primarily a response to the patient scheduling and care scandal at VA, although other issues including the ongoing backlog of claims and lack of control over spending for construction and other costs also now are commonly being cited as justification.
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