WASHINGTON -- Legislation making it easier to fire and discipline top officials of the Department of Veterans Affairs garnered the unanimous support Wednesday of Tennessee members in the U.S. House.
By a vote of 390-33, the House passed the VA Management Accountability Act. It is not clear whether the Senate will take up the legislation, it up, but Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced it in that chamber.
The House action came amid growing reports of mismanagement, long waiting times for appointments, falsified records and preventable deaths at VA clinics from Phoenix to Pittsburgh.
The scandal began in Phoenix, where whistle-blowers allege 40 veterans died waiting for care while employees kept false records designed to hide the long waiting times.
In Nashville, a top official ran up $140,000 in unauthorized travel expenses while a backlog of claims piled up.
"These problems are inexcusable," said Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville. "Bureaucracy should never harm our nation's heroes."
Cooper has sent the agency letters demanding more information about the Nashville official, as well as about "secret waiting lists" in Phoenix that prevented veterans from getting timely care.
Others in the Tennessee delegation voting for the bill were Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, and Republican Reps. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump, Scott DesJarlais of Jasper, Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood, Diane Black of Gallatin, Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah, John Duncan Jr. of Knoxville and Phil Roe of Johnson City.