President Trump on Friday signed a bill that would make it easier for the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fire employees accused of misconduct.
Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House that it is a “national disgrace” that some VA workers involved in treatment scandals were allowed to remain in their roles and that the new law will make sure it “never happens again.”
“This is one of the largest reforms of the VA in its history,” Trump told an audience assembled in the East Room.
He said the measure fulfills his campaign promise to improve veterans’ healthcare and that it “keeps our promises to those who have kept us free.”
The House voted 368-55 last week to pass the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, sending it to Trump’s desk. The Senate approved the bipartisan bill earlier this month.
The measure speeds up the process for VA Secretary David Shulkin to fire employees, regardless of rank, and allows the agency to rescind bonuses if an employee is convicted of a felony related to his or her duties.
It also strengthens protections for whistleblowers.
The legislation was the latest attempt by Congress to respond to the 2014 VA scandals involving long wait times for medical care at its hospitals and employees’ attempts to cover them up.