Tenney amendment to the VA Accountability First Act of 2017 passes house with bipartisan support

Claudia Tenney

Tenney Amendment will provide oversight, accountability measures to the VA

Today, an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R—NY) was adopted by the House with bipartisan support. Tenney introduced an amendment to H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, which would provide the VA Secretary with the increased ability to hold employees accountable for their actions.

Tenney’s amendment to H.R. 1259 would require that the VA submit a report to Congress at the end of each fiscal year, listing bonuses awarded to senior level staff. The VA Accountability First Act of 2017 passed the house with a bipartisan vote of 237-178.

“As the parent of a U.S. Marine and representative of a district with a large veteran’s population, I am honored that my amendment— passed today with bipartisan support— will play a role in providing the highest level of care for our veterans. The amendment will require the VA to submit a report to Congress, listing all bonuses awarded to senior level officials. Considering recent mismanagement at the VA, it’s important that our veterans, and the American people, know how bonuses are being awarded,” said Rep. Tenney.

“Additionally, it is vital that we implement policies that allow the VA to hold those who engage in unethical behavior accountable. Although a majority of the employees at the VA are hardworking, dedicated, and honest individuals, there are those who forget that their mission is to serve our veterans. In providing increased accountability and transparency by passing the VA Accountability First Act of 2017, we can ensure our veterans, who have made the selfless sacrifice to bravely serve our great nation, receive the highest level of care in a timely manner.”

View Tenney’s remarks here: https://youtu.be/lBitWrXFhV8.

Tenney’s remarks are as follows:

“I rise today in support of my amendment to H.R. 1259, which would require the VA to submit a report to Congress at the end of each fiscal year listing the bonuses that were awarded to senior level executives.

In 2015, VA employees received more than 177 million dollars in bonuses, which was 24 percent more than they received in 2014. The average bonus for a senior executive was ten thousand dollars.

I have no doubt that the men and women of the VA serve our veterans admirably each day. In my own district, I have spoken with veterans who are grateful for the compassionate care they receive from local VA clinics throughout Upstate New York. VA employees should be fairly compensated for their work and awarded for their achievement.

It is also clear to me that there is more work to be done. Just this month, an audit of several VA facilities in North Carolina and Virginia revealed that wait times continue to be misrepresented and that nearly 14,000 veterans were denied access to timely care. The audit also found that veterans were waiting an average of 26 days to see mental health specialists, while the VA falsely reported average wait times of six days.

In light of this information, the American people are right to wonder who at the VA may be receiving a bonus this year.

My amendment adds a simple reporting requirement to the bill that will streamline oversight of bonuses at the VA by requiring the agency to proactively provide information to Congress that details the amount of each bonus awarded to senior executives as well as the job titles of the individuals and the location of their employment.

Given the patterns of mismanagement at the VA, the American people deserve to know how bonuses are being awarded at the agency. This bill increases transparency over the bonus process without placing any undue burdens on the agency.

I would encourage my colleagues to support it.

I thank the Committee for the opportunity to offer this amendment and reserve the balance of my time.”

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