From Congressman Tom Latham –
During the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to travel and see constituents. As I return to Washington, we will see many good pieces of legislation come to the floor for votes including legislation that has the possibility to make a significant impact in the lives of veterans in our district.
This past week, I shared an example with my Facebook followers of the gross mismanagement of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Facility in Phoenix, Arizona. The hospital held a “secret” list of veterans waiting for services, which was not disclosed to me or Congress, which appeared to hide the true wait times for health services delivered. As a result, an estimated 40 veterans past away while waiting for care.
I cannot say this more powerfully; this will not be accepted or forgotten. Even though this is just one instance at a single facility, and other VA facilities and hospitals do better jobs at serving those who have served, many VA managers and directors have little accountability for their actions.
In the upcoming weeks, House Republicans will bring to the floor a measure to hold Senior Executive Service (SES) directors of the Department of Veterans Affairs accountable. Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014 allows Secretary of the VA, Eric Shinseki (GEN, Ret.) to fast track the terminations of these SES supervisors and directors for gross failure of their duties. I will support this legislation with my vote when it comes to the floor of the House.
Taking steps to assist veterans and active duty military, The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2015 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, and now it moves to full consideration by the whole House. This legislation ensures that our veterans continue to get the benefits they have earned through their countless years of selfless service and demonstrations of loyalty, duty, and integrity. The Bill is $1.8 billion below the fiscal year 2014 level which provides less funding than the previous year for military construction, largely due to a lack of new need for such projects. This will not negatively affect the services our troops and veterans rely on while increasing funding for veterans programs by $1.5 billion.
Be assured that I will continue working for you in my remaining months in Congress. Please feel free to continue to call, email, and send letters if you have issues or ideas. Make sure that you regularly check for upcoming Traveling Help Desk days in your county. Remember, that you can contact me by using my website latham.house.gov or on Facebook or Twitter.