One topic that leaders of both parties had hoped to address before the recess involved bills seeking to revise various personnel policies at the VA. Those bills have been criticized from both directions as both too strong and too weak, however, leaving them in extended limbo. Senate Republicans made a late bid to call up a measure (S-2127) targeting whistleblower retaliation at the VA and at other agencies but were unable to get agreement from Democrats to consider it on an expedited basis. Meanwhile, a counterpart (S-3170) was introduced to a recently offered House bill (HR-5620) to require all disciplinary appeals by SES members at the VA to go to internal review boards rather than the MSPB, while shortening the MSPB appeals process for other VA employees and strengthen whistleblower protections a the department while requiring discipline of those who retaliate against them, among other measures. House Republican leaders initially had hoped to bring their version to a quick vote but that, too, was set aside. The Senate also has put off action on a House-passed spending bill for the VA (HR-2577) that contains similar whistleblower-related language along with new restrictions on performance awards there.
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