Columns

Some Big Things Are Happening

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Washington, July 7, 2017 | Beth Breeding (202-225-5431) | comments
There is good news coming out of Washington. From major reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to seeing the end of a federal rule that flew in the face of federalism and economic realities, the fact of the matter is that some big things are happening. And you should know about them.

Back in 2014, we learned of a nationwide scandal within the VA health system. Long wait times for medical care, false record keeping, and just plain negligence at the hands of VA employees were some of the disturbing stories shared. While the vast majority of VA employees – including those in the Sixth District – are dedicated to serving America’s veterans, in recent years the misdeeds of a few bad actors have repeatedly overshadowed their good work. What’s most alarming is that federal civil service protections have made it nearly impossible to fire many of these folks. Some of these employees have even received bonuses.

For the past several years, I have worked with my colleagues in the House to produce legislation to help hold employees and executives at the VA accountable. Last month, Congress sent the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to the President’s desk to become law. This new law will help make sure that caring for veterans is the top priority of VA. It gives VA Secretary Shulkin more flexibility to discipline or remove employees who have failed to serve our veterans and strengthens whistleblower protections for those seeking to shine a light on abuses within the system. I am proud of this bipartisan work, and I hope that Congress can build on this success by continuing our efforts to ensure that America’s veterans receive the best care possible.

Another issue that I’ve been working on is cutting federal red tape. One rule that concerned me from the very beginning was the controversial “waters of the United States” rule created in 2015. At its core, this rule is an example of unworkable federal government overreach that dramatically expands the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority over regulating waterways, including those on private property. It would place even more small streams and creeks under the agency’s control and unfairly over-regulate agricultural producers and economies. Just a few days ago, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they will rescind this rule. Repeal of this rule has been a long-fought effort that is good news for farmers, businesses, home builders, landowners, and municipalities who would be most directly impacted by the far-reaching burdens of the original rule.

These are just two examples of some of the positive policy changes coming out of Congress and the Administration in the past few weeks. House Republicans continue to work diligently to tackle issues like health care, border security, and creating an economy that produces both jobs and greater opportunity for America’s innovators. Our work doesn’t stop here, and I look forward to seeing more important reforms across the finish line.
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