House Passes Meng Amendment As Part of Veterans Affairs Bill
Mar 17, 2017
Congresswoman’s provisions aim to provide employment opportunities to recently discharged service members and address staffing shortages within the Department of Veterans Affairs
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation which includes two amendments authored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) that would provide employment opportunities to recently discharged service members, and address staffing shortages within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Meng’s first amendment would require the Secretary of the VA to establish a program that encourages members of the Armed Forces serving as health professionals to pursue jobs with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) upon their discharge or separation from the military.
The VHA, a component of the VA, is the largest integrated health care system in the United States, providing care to millions of veterans through VA medical centers, clinics and outpatient sites.
“As we all know, the VHA has existing shortages of health professionals,” Meng said on the floor of the House during the chamber’s consideration of her measure. “We also know that our service men and women sometimes have difficulty transitioning back to civilian life after serving. What could be better than having a service member with health care training and experience transition into employment with the VHA serving their brothers and sisters? Everyone wins with this amendment.”
Meng’s second amendment seeks to assist the VA Secretary in filling VHA positions for which there are severe staffing shortages.
Under current law, the Inspector General (IG) of the VA must issue an annual report on which positions within the agency are severely understaffed. The VA Secretary is then granted expedited hiring authority to fill those positions. Meng’s provision permits the IG to report on additional shortages than those currently allowed by law so that the VA Secretary can fill those positions more quickly.
“Our veterans need the care that they have earned, and that they deserve. They need it now. The first step in that endeavor is making sure that VA staffing levels are adequate,” Meng also said on the House floor.
Meng’s amendments passed unanimously by voice vote. Both were approved as part of H.R.1367, a bill to help hire and retain physicians and other employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. H.R. 1367 passed 412 to 0.