McCaskill Statement on VA Secretary Confirmation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran and senior member of the Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement on the Senate’s bipartisan confirmation of Robert McDonald to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs:

“I’m very pleased with the Senate’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote to confirm Robert McDonald. He has a lot of work ahead of him—and I fully expect he will work to restore a culture of accountability at the VA by ensuring that any employee retaliating against a whistleblower or who cooked the books on wait times, is fired, and that we can quickly recover bonuses paid to those fraudsters with taxpayer dollars. I believe Mr. McDonald stands ready to tackle these difficult issues and ensure our veterans are receiving the highest level of care.”

McCaskill last week met with McDonald to discuss how best to reform the VA following recent reports of misconduct at facilities across the country, while ensuring whistleblowers who report concerns are protected from retaliation.  

As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, McCaskill recently introduced legislation that would mandate the firing of any VA employee found to have retaliated against a whistleblower. Currently, a finding of retaliation against a whistleblower is punishable by a range of actions, including fines and reprimand.

McCaskill also introduced legislation with Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) to take back bonuses paid to employees at the VA who were involved in the manipulation of electronic waitlists. The legislation requires VA employees who received bonuses in 2011 or later to repay those bonuses if they contributed to a deliberate omission from an electronic wait list the names of veterans waiting for health care. The employee’s superiors are also required to pay back bonuses if they knew, or reasonably should have known, of their subordinates’ purposeful omission of the names of veterans from electronic waitlists.

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/veterans to read highlights of McCaskill’s fight for military veterans.

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