Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today on S. 1094, the VA Accountability Act.
Full remarks are below or watch online here.
“Mr. Speaker, first and foremost I want to thank Chairman Roe and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for their work on this legislation and their focus on reforming the VA. I know they and the secretary are all committed to making sure our veterans get the best and only the best and no excuses.
“Now, the Department of Veterans Affairs has an honorable task to care for and heal our veterans. We made a promise in this country that if you serve, your fellow citizens will take care of you. And it is through the employees of the VA that we as a nation fulfill that promise. It is for this reason that we cannot accept the failures and backlogs in our veterans’ programs.
“Now, we all know that there are thousands of great employees at the VA who consider their duty to care for veterans as much bigger than just a job. But the few bad apples are spoiling the whole barrel.
“We know how this works. You can have an office or a team committed to doing the best job possible. But when one member isn’t pulling his or her weight, when somebody is breaking the rules and getting away with it, when bad people get transferred or even promoted instead of fired, that totally destroys a whole organization.
“It undermines morale, and it makes the team ineffective, and it allows for failures to continue or get worse. And failures at the VA have life or death consequences.
“This has happened for years. Years where a person who was jailed got leave to serve time and then returned to the VA. Years where an employee showed up drunk to work and participated in a surgery. Years where a psychiatrist watched deeply inappropriate videos with a veteran in the room.
“After years of all this and none of them getting fired, the good employees become dispirited. The culture at the VA will decline. And too many of our veterans receive low-quality care, if they can get care at all.
“Mr. Speaker, the VA is steeped in a culture of ambivalence coupled with a lack of accountability, and our veterans suffer as a result.
“Fixing the culture at the VA requires us to acknowledge the great work of the many without leaving them tainted with the incompetence and scandal of the few. It requires removing the bad apples.
“So, I am glad we are finally sending this bill to the President’s desk. You see, the House passed a similar bill in 2015, but the Senate did not act. We passed another in the new Congress earlier this year. And now that our Senate counterparts have voted, we will take our final step today to send this legislation to the President’s desk.
“Once President Trump signs this into law, I predict we will begin to see the cultural change at the VA, and our veterans will get the care we promised them and they deserve.
“I yield back.”