May 20 2014
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today called for the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki for his failed leadership in addressing the growing national scandal surrounding the agency. Fischer announced she has also introduced legislation to prohibit the payment of bonuses to employees at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) through Fiscal Year 2015. She released the following statement:
“In the weeks since news broke of fraud and abuse at Veterans Administration facilities across the country, Secretary Shinseki has failed to demonstrate the strong leadership necessary to aggressively address this systemic failure. He has had time to act and he has fallen short. Although Nebraska has not been directly impacted, I am deeply troubled by this growing national scandal, which has resulted in a drastic loss of confidence in the secretary. Moreover, the resignation of Under Secretary for Health Robert Petzel – who was already scheduled to retire – is nothing more than an empty gesture of accountability.
“While I am grateful for Secretary Shinseki’s past military service, I am disappointed in his current leadership and I believe it is time for him to step down. A new secretary must work to regain credibility with our nation’s veterans and demonstrate basic competence.
“It is disappointing that an Act of Congress is even necessary to stop bonuses at the Veterans Health Administration given the growing national scandal surrounding the agency. In response to the secretary’s failure to act, I have also introduced legislation suspending all bonuses at the VA until these problems are fixed. Funding should be focused on fixing the problem, not rewarding employees entrenched in a struggling bureaucracy. I hope the Senate quickly adopts this legislation as a small, but important step forward to restore public trust.”
The VHA, which administers medical centers across the country, is under investigation for placing veterans on “secret wait lists” to allegedly hide the true number of veterans waiting for care for more than two weeks. Reports suggest dozens of veterans across the nation died while waiting for VHA-provided care. The Fischer-Burr legislation bans the payment of bonuses to VHA employees through Fiscal Year 2015.
A copy of the legislation is available online HERE.
Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is a cosponsor of the legislation.
In April 2013, Secretary Shinseki announced that the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) would not be awarding performance-based bonuses for senior executives due to “a failure to meet performance goals for reducing a sizable backlog in claims processing.” However, Shinseki has not acted similarly with regard to the VHA’s recent scandal.