by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) called for the Department of Veterans Affairs to be “fundamentally turned on its head” during remarks made in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.
Speaking at the Conservative Reform Network’s “Room to Grow: A Series” launch at Google’s offices in the district, McCarthy discussed entrepreneurship in the United States and the need for innovation in the federal government.
The California lawmaker cited the VA as an an example of the need for reform in government agencies.
“The VA has severe problems,” McCarthy said. “We’ve done everything we could to change it. We’ve changed the secretary; we’ve changed the rules, we’ve given them a tremendous amount more money and the wait times are even longer.”
McCarthy pointed to what he considers the illogical structure of the VA, which prevents incompetent employees from being held accountable. Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.) has sought to resolve the issue in the wake of the fake waitlist scandal by introducing a bill that would allow Robert McDonald, the agency’s secretary, to remove or demote a VA employee on the grounds of poor performance or misconduct.
Miller expressed skepticism earlier this month that McDonald even wants such power. President Obama threatened Wednesday to veto the legislation, labeling it “counterproductive.”
“You know what happens in the VA system? You can’t get rid of anybody,” McCarthy said. “The structure does not allow you to do that. … One person has been fired in this process about that wait time, [but] she didn’t get fired because she didn’t do the wait time right. She did something illegal somewhere else. They couldn’t even fire her for the incompetence.”