Kuster: I Support VA Accountability But We Must Hold the Right People Accountable
Congresswoman Kuster’s two amendments to improve protections for whistleblowers within the VA were approved by the House
(Washington, DC) - Today, the House approved two amendments introduced by Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, that would strengthen Department of Veterans Affairs whistleblower protections as part of legislation aimed at improving accountability at the VA. Kuster voted in favor of an amendment offered by Representative Tim Walz (D-MN) that would have granted the Secretary of the VA the authority to hold senior executive at the VA accountable and protect the constitutionally guaranteed right to due process for VA employees. Unfortunately, Mr. Walz’s amendment failed to be approved.
“We know there needs to be a change at the VA and ensuring employees who impede the mission of the agency are held accountable is critical,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’m pleased the House approved my amendments to protect the rights of whistleblowers and reduce the risk of whistleblowers being subjected to retaliation. Unfortunately the legislation failed to go far enough in protecting low level VA officials, many of whom are veterans, and provided too much protection for senior VA officials. I support VA accountability but we must hold the right people accountable. I’m committed to continuing to work to craft a bipartisan bill that will have the support necessary to advance in the Senate.”
Without Congresswoman Kuster’s amendments, the legislation references generic personnel actions that do not expressly prohibit actions against whistleblowers. Kuster’s amendments prohibit a supervisor from denying promotion to an employee because they filed a whistleblower complaint. They also would make supervisors more responsible for the effective performance of their employees and would improve training of supervisors to including training on whistleblower rights.
Congresswoman Kuster has served on the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee since taking office in 2013, and has served as the Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Oversight & Investigations Subcommittee since 2015. As Ranking Member, she pushes for increased transparency at the VA and helps to lead the charge in Washington on the need to improve access to care for veterans across the country. The daughter of a WWII veteran, Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated for the needs of New Hampshire veterans, and she frequently holds veteran roundtables, forums, and job fairs for Granite State veterans across the district.