Voting to Protect Veterans
by Blake Farenthold on March 20, 2017 at 8:36 AM
While most employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs are diligent and strive to provide outstanding care, I’ve heard too many stories from veterans about VA employees who are failing to fulfill this promise. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to hold VA employees accountable for their actions due to the extremely complex and lengthy process it takes to discipline VA employees. That’s why the House passed the VA Accountability First Act, which provides the VA Secretary increased flexibility to demote, remove or suspend VA employees, including senior level employees, for poor performance or misconduct. Additionally, it allows the Secretary to reduce an employee’s pension if they’re convicted of a felony that influenced their job. In fact, I believe we should extend this beyond the VA, but that’s legislation for another day. This bill also reinforces whistleblower protections to ensure that good employees can easily help the VA hold bad actors accountable.
The House also voted to pass the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which prohibits the VA from considering any beneficiary, assisted by a fiduciary, as “mentally defective” without due process. Under current practice, if a veteran or beneficiary is appointed a fiduciary by the VA, they are automatically labeled as “mentally defective” and added to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which prohibits them from purchasing a firearm. This rule fails to identify which veterans may pose an actual risk, and may also discourage veterans from seeking care. The current rule stereotypes people who have trouble managing their finances or have even a mild disability as dangerous and robs them of both their Second and Fifth Amendment rights.
America’s veterans deserve the highest quality of care and civil protections available, and these bills help fulfill these promises. To see my speech on the House floor about the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, please click here.