With more than 800,000 veterans currently waiting to resolve disability claims, many long-delayed, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has no business rewarding its executives with performance bonuses.
And, the VA won't have the authority to award bonuses under an amendment to H.R. 2216, the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill of 2014, offered and passed today in a joint effort by U.S. Representatives Martha Roby (R-AL), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Scott Tipton (R-CO) and Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA).
A 2011 audit of the VA revealed the agency paid its senior executives a total of $2.8 million in bonuses in the 2011 fiscal year. In 2012 that total was $2.3 million, all while the number of unresolved veterans' claims has continued to rise.
Rising on the House floor in support of the amendment, Rep. Roby thanked chief sponsor Rep. Rothfus, and spoke of the personal nature of this ongoing problem.
"Each case represents a person who has served his or her country. Each case represents a veteran who may have earned a benefit but is currently being denied that benefit because of bureaucratic delay," Rep Roby said. "An award of a bonus should be a special recognition of success and accomplishment -- not a right or a routine payment. Restricting the ability to award bonuses until that backlog is cleared is a commonsense good government policy, and I am pleased to support my colleague's amendment. It is a strong step in that direction."
The facts show the problem isn't budget related. In the last four years, the number of VA claims pending for longer than a year has grown by 2,000 percent despite a 40 percent increase in the VA's budget.
The House passed the full bill with the Rothfus/Roby/Tipton/Kelly Amendment on Tuesday evening by a vote of 421 to 4.