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Newhouse’s VA bill clears House

Measure calls for fixing management

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U.S. Congressman Dan Newhouse

— Congressman Dan Newhouse’s bill to correct management issues in the Veterans Administration passed the House of Representatives yesterday.

Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, joined Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Port Angeles, in introducing the VA Management Alignment Act.

“This Friday is Veterans Day, when we honor the sacrifice of the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces,” Newhouse said.

“I can think of no better way to honor our veterans than improving the care that they have earned and that our nation has promised. I am grateful that this legislation has been approved by the House to address mismanagement in the VA.”

The bill directs the head of the Veterans Administration to issue a report to Congress detailing steps to reorganize and effectively improve veterans’ access to quality care. It now heads to the Senate for a vote before reaching the President’s desk.   

The legislation, supported by the American Legion and the American Federation of Government Employees, follows comprehensive studies uncovering Veterans Administration management problems.

The reports that have been issued so far, and others written by the Government Accountability Office, have said the Veterans Administration did not follow through on internal and Congressional recommendations to fix the problems of manipulated wait times and management failures.

The reports also highlighted problems with the agency’s human resource department.

“We need to have the backs of those who serve,” Kilmer. “Stories and reports about manipulated wait times and mismanagement in our VA system proved that systemic reforms are needed. I’m glad our bill is moving forward so we can improve care and get veterans the services they have earned.”

The bill calls for the report to be delivered to the Committees on Veterans’ Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives within 180 days of the act being signed into law.

The report would spell out roles and responsibilities for senior staff and organizational units and how they work together to promote efficiency and accountability.

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