VA accountability bill gets second look amid controversy

Days after a Department of Veterans Affairs official admitted during a congressional hearing that it is "almost impossible" to fire employees for misconduct, lawmakers are renewing calls to pass legislation that would empower the VA secretary to remove or punish employees throughout the agency.

The VA Accountability Act was essentially shelved late last month when Democrats in the Senate blocked it from receiving a vote on the floor.

But as controversy grows over a pair of VA officials who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify Monday about allegedly defrauding the agency, yet kept their jobs, the bill could get a second look from skeptics.

Danny Pummill, a top benefits official, said during the hearing Monday that firing VA employees has become nearly "impossible" and told members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee that the two VA officials in question were still employed at the taxpayer's expense.

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