[Ed. – Politicizing things Obama doesn’t share blame for is fine.]
The ongoing scandal into extensive problems at Veterans Affairs hospitals erupted briefly on the Senate floor Thursday, when Senator Marco Rubio asked for unanimous consent to pass a VA “accountability” bill that cleared the House by a wide margin a day earlier. Senator Bernie Sanders blocked the request, and it’s worth unpacking why.
At first blush Sanders’ objection seems unreasonable—the bill is not opposed by the White House, and got 390 votes in the House from legislators on both sides of the aisle. Only thirty-three members voted against it. So why did Sanders, with the implicit backing of Senate Democrats, object to quick passage?
The legislation, which is only three pages long, is straightforward: it gives the VA secretary the power to fire anyone in senior executive service at the department. These are the highest-ranking civilian federal employees, who normally enjoy a great deal of job protection under federal civil service rules. But this bill would give the VA secretary the power to dismiss them hastily, as the Defense secretary can do with generals, or as a CEO in the private sector could do to his or her employees.