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Senators Introduce The VA's ‘Best Chance’ At Reform
A group of bipartisan senators with a history of work on veterans issues have introduced comprehensive legislation aimed at reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs’ accountability procedures.
This new measure, sponsored by Sens. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia; Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida; and Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, would allow poorly performing VA employees to be more easily terminated, and allow for the government to recoup bonuses paid to those employees.
It would also give the secretary of the VA the authority to reprimand or fire a VA executive in a “21-day internal department grievance process.” Other VA employees would have a review process of no more than 180 days. From Military Times:
“The legislation also includes language which would allow VA leaders to claw back employee bonuses or relocation expenses, or reduce a former employee’s pension, if they are convicted of a felony related to their job. VA leaders in recent years have maintained they have no current authority to take those kinds of punitive actions.
Under the bill, VA leaders would be required to provide more training on whistleblower rights and be prohibited from firing employees who have filed complaints through official channels."
“To fully reform the VA and provide our nation’s veterans with the quality care they were promised and deserve, we must ensure the department can efficiently dismiss employees who are not able or willing to do their jobs,” Rubio said in a statement on May 11. “We must make real changes that put the well-being of our service members before the best interests of bureaucrats.”
This could be easier said than done, as a federal appeals court recently struck down legislation that shortened the appeals process for senior VA executives, ruling that it violated those workers’ protections.
The proposed legislation “represents lawmakers’ best chance at sweeping department reforms since the wake of the 2014 VA wait times scandal,” according to Military Times.
That scandal rocked the veterans community and led to the resignation of retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, then the VA secretary. A big part of the issue that led to the scandal was the VA’s limited ability to fire poor employees.
"This bipartisan bill will hold bad employees accountable while protecting the hardworking folks who are responsible for serving veterans," said Tester, ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "The challenges at the VA are many, but tough problems require commonsense solutions and this bipartisan bill is a product of what happens when you put aside politics and work together."
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a minute-to-minute account of the U.S. drone strikes that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in remarks to a Republican fund-raising dinner on Friday night, according to audio obtained by CNN.
With his typical dramatic flourish, Trump recounted the scene as he monitored the strikes from the White House Situation Room when Soleimani was killed.
The U.S. Navy will name its fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier after Doris Miller, an iconic World War II sailor recognized for his heroism during the Pearl Harbor attack, according to reports in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and U.S. Naval Institute News.
Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly is expected to announce the naming of CVN-81 during a ceremony on Monday in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, according to USNI. Two of Miller's nieces are expected to be there, according to the Star-Advertiser.
Two immigrants, a pastor and an Army sergeant have been convicted of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud as part of an illegal immigration scheme, according to federal prosecutors.
Rajesh Ramcharan, 45; Diann Ramcharan, 37; Sgt. Galima Murry, 31; and the Rev. Ken Harvell, 60, were found guilty Thursday after a nine-day jury trial, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado.
The conspiracy involved obtaining immigration benefits for Rajesh Ramcharan, Diann Ramcharan, and one of their minor children, the release said. A married couple in 2007 came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago on visitor visas. They overstayed the visas and settled in Colorado.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Saturday it was sending to Ukraine the black boxes from a Ukrainian passenger plane that the Iranian military shot down this month, an accident that sparked unrest at home and added to pressure on Tehran from abroad.
Iran's Tasnim news agency also reported the authorities were prepared for experts from France, Canada and the United States to examine information from the data and voice recorders of the Ukraine International Airlines plane that came down on Jan. 8.
The plane disaster, in which all 176 aboard were killed, has added to international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long running row with the United States over its nuclear program that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.