Just a mess all around…….
Democratic Rep. Tim Walz ays that the recent relocation bonus scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs is so egregious that he’s willing to buck tradition and tackle public sector unions with Republicans.
Democrats usually side with public sector unions, a position brought into sharp relief by Sen. Richard Blumenthal ’s recent blocking of a motion for an up-down vote on the VA Accountability Act of 2015 in the Senate.
But Walz is so upset with the recent hearing — a hearing on senior officials pressuring subordinates out of jobs and then taking them for themselves to secure bonuses and relocation expenses — that he’s collaborating with House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman GOP Rep. Jeff Miller The Star Tribune reports.
That collaboration, however, will stop short of ending public sector unions altogether.
“Getting rid of public sector unions is not going to fix the VA,” Walz told The Star Tribune. “If there are reforms that need to be done, I’m certainly willing to look at them.”
A hearing Monday on the relocation scandal finally killed Walz’s patience. Senior VA officials Diana Rubens and Kimberly Graves decided to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering any questions from the committee.
An inspector general report found that Graves misused her position of authority to receive a job with fewer responsibilities, the same high-level salary of $173,949, and a total of $129,467 in moving-related expenses.
At the hearing, Robert McKenrick, one of the employees reportedly forced out of his position, dodged any suggestions that there was significant and undue pressure from above to relocate. Miller reminded McKenrick of the penalties surrounding perjury, but McKenrick stuck to his story and attempted to his square his hearing testimony with what he had told the inspector general earlier. Antoine Waller, who was moved to the Baltimore Regional Office, was far more forthright.