skip to main content

H.R. 1259: VA Accountability First Act of 2017

Mar 16, 2017 at 5:58 p.m. ET. On Passage of the Bill in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1259 (115th) in the House.

H.R. 1259 would institute necessary reforms at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by providing the Secretary with the authority to expeditiously remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, for performance or misconduct.  . H.R. 1259 would also: provide improved protections for whistleblowers; allow the Secretary to reduce an employee’s federal pension if he or she is convicted of a felony that influenced his or her job at VA; recoup a bonus provided to an employee who engaged in misconduct or poor performance prior to receiving the bonus; and allow the Secretary to recoup any relocation expenses that were authorized for a VA employee only through the employee’s ill-gotten means, such as fraud waste, or malfeasance.

Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Authorize the VA Secretary to fire, demote, or suspend for longer than 14 days any VA employee, but excluding title 38 employees and political employees, for performance or misconduct.  An employee would be entitled to advanced written notice of the decision with an opportunity to respond and then the Secretary would be required to make a final decision after receiving the employee’s response, all of which must be completed within a total of fifteen business days; an expedited appeal to the administrative judge level at the  Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) who must render a decision within 45 days; an appeal  of the administrative judge’s decision to the full MSPB; and limited judicial review of the full MSPB’s decision by a Federal Circuit court.
  • Authorize the Secretary to reduce an employee’s pension if they are convicted of a felony that influenced their job performance. Prior to any reduction, the employee would be entitled to advance notice, an opportunity to respond to the order, and the opportunity for an appeal of the Secretary’s decision before the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Such appeal would have to be completed within 30 days of filing.
  • Provide the Secretary with the authority to recoup any bonus or award paid to any VA employee if the Secretary determines that the individual engaged in misconduct or poor performance prior to the payment of the award or bonus, and that the bonus or award would not have been issued to the employee had their misconduct or poor performance been known prior to the payment.  Prior to any recoupment, the employee would be entitled to advance notice, an opportunity to respond to the order, and the opportunity for an appeal of the Secretary’s decision before another agency or department within the Federal government. Such appeal would have to be completed within 30 days of filing.
  • Provide the Secretary with the authority to recoup any relocation expenses paid to any VA employee if the Secretary determines that the employee committed an act of fraud, waste, or malfeasance that influenced the authorization of the relocation expenses. Prior to any recoupment, the employee would be entitled to advance notice, an opportunity to respond to the order, and the opportunity for an appeal of the Secretary’s decision before another agency or department within the Federal government. Such appeal would have to be completed within 30 days of filing.
  • Enhance protections for whistleblowers by aligning the current procedures in place for disciplining an employee who retaliates against a VA whistleblower with the procedures authorized by this bill and by specifically barring the VA Secretary from using this removal authority if the employee has an open whistleblower complaint/case with the Office of Special Counsel or a complaint/case set up by the new whistleblower process that passed as part of the ‘‘Continuing Appropriations and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017, and Zika Response and Preparedness Act’’ (P.L. 114-223). .
  • Authorize the Secretary to directly appoint individuals to the positions of Medical Center Director and Director of Veterans Integrated Service Network if they have a demonstrated ability in the medical profession, health care administration, or health care fiscal management.
  • Change the current disciplinary process timelines for title 38 employees at the VA (physicians, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, and expanded-function dental auxiliaries) to align with the disciplinary timelines for other VA employees.

Source: Republican Policy Committee

Totals

All Votes R D
Aye 57%
 
 
237
227
 
10
 
No 43%
 
 
178
3
 
175
 
Not Voting
 
 
14
6
 
8
 

Passed. Simple Majority Required. Source: house.gov.

Ideology Vote Chart

Key:
Republican - Aye Democrat - Aye Republican - No Democrat - No
Seat position based on our ideology score.

Cartogram Map

Each hexagon represents one congressional district. Solid hexes are Aye votes.

What you can do

Vote Details

Notes: The Speaker’s Vote? “Aye” or “Yea”?
Download as CSV

Statistically Notable Votes

Statistically notable votes are the votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted and other factors.

All Votes

Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the bill this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a bill. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the bill, whether to change the bill before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this bill is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the bill. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the bill itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
  4. There is one vote here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your representative, which is meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your representative voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?

    If you don’t already know who your Members of Congress are you can find them by entering your address here.

Each vote’s study guide is a little different — we automatically choose which questions to include based on the information we have available about the vote. Study guides are a new feature to GovTrack. You can help us improve them by filling out this survey or by sending your feedback to hello@govtrack.us.