The House Veterans Affairs Committee has held a hearing on HR-571, under which a VA employee who retaliates against a whistleblower would receive a suspension or removal from federal service; a fine to repay the expense borne by the federal government in defending their retaliatory behavior; a forfeiture of bonuses received while the retaliation occurred; and a prohibition of receiving future bonuses for one year. That committee tends to move bills forward quickly after such hearings, and also has on its plate a number of other measures crafted in response to the VA patient scheduling and care scandal. A similar bill (S-788)meanwhile has been introduced in the Senate. The House panel also has held a hearing on HR-473, which would revamp several SES policies at VA, including limits on how many can receive top ratings, limits on how long they could stay on paid leave pending an investigation that might lead to disciplinary action, and requiring the reduction of their annuities if they are convicted of certain crimes related to their official duties. The committee also has under consideration HR-1129, which would establish an internal VA office, to be headed by a career SES member, to be the sole point of contact to receive and investigate whistleblower complaints raised within the department on matters including those involving patient care.
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