THE DAILY WHIP: FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 2017

House Meets At:First Vote Predicted:Last Vote Predicted:

9:00 a.m.: Legislative Business

Five “One Minutes”

11:00 – 11:30 a.m.11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Complete Consideration of H.R. 1367 – To improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes (Rep. Wenstrup – Veterans’ Affairs).  The bipartisan bill will help the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recruit and maintain highly-qualified employees.  The legislation requires the VA to create a recruiting database to identify positions that are critical to the mission of the Veterans Administration and to recommend vetted applicants for unfilled positions for which they are qualified.

H.R. 1367 also helps to maintain the current workforce at the VA by creating a promotion track for technical experts.  The legislation also establishes avenues for career training and advancement within the agency through an executive fellowship program that will allow senior GS level employees to work in the private sector for a year, and private sector employees to work at the Veterans Health or Benefits Administration for a year. This fellowship program will help increase the level of innovation and collaboration between the federal government and the private sector, which ultimately will benefit America’s veterans.  Additionally, the bill extends the veterans hiring preference to national guardsmen and reservists who have served over 180 cumulative days.  Current law requires them to serve 180 consecutive days.

This bill creates a more streamlined process for hiring and retaining the sort of highly-qualified employees that will help to ensure our nation’s veterans get the care and benefits they deserve. 

The Rule, which was adopted yesterday, provides for no further general debate and makes in order the following amendments:

Wenstrup Amendment. Extends the timeline to implement the fellowship program from 90 days to one year and extends the GAO reporting deadline from one to two years. Additionally, it removes the requirement to track a number of hiring effectiveness metrics, changes the establishment of a recruiting database from a "shall" to "may" authority, and stipulates that human resources training be accomplished virtually.
Meng Amendment #2. Makes clear that the Inspector General of the VA must report, pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 7412, on at minimum five clinical and five nonclinical VA occupations that have the largest staffing shortages, which then triggers special hiring authorities for the Secretary to address such shortages.
Sewell Amendment. Allows the Secretary of the VA to select eligible employees for the Executive Management Fellowship Program who represent or service rural areas, to whatever extent practicable.
Hanabusa Amendment #4. Strikes section 6 of the underlying bill – "Reemployment of Former Employees," which would allow for the Secretary to appoint former employees at one grade higher than when they last separated, without having to go through the usual competitive application process.
Buck  Amendment. Prevents former political appointees at the VA from receiving non-political, competitively selected positions at the VA without having to go through the proper selection process.
Shea-Porter Amendment. Requires the Secretary of the VA to list open mental health positions in the database established under the bill.
Brownley Amendment. Clarifies that "medical facility" referenced in section 10 of the underlying bill, includes each medical center, domiciliary facility, outpatient clinic, community-based outpatient clinic, and vet center.
Welch Amendment. Adds an analysis of succession planning and hiring in rural areas, and requires a study on the ability to hire and recruit veterans in rural areas.
Gottheimer Amendment. Adds veterans who are recent graduates and/or recipients of Post-9/11 GI Bill Educational Assistance as a distinct category of individuals who are allowed for excepted service appointments.
Herrera-Beutler Amendment. Strengthens anonymity protections for employees filling out exit surveys, and requires exit survey data to be compiled at the VISN or regional level to identify and acknowledge regional differences.
Hanabusa Amendment #11. Requires the disclosure of the total number of employees that voluntarily separated and the percentage of those employees that took the voluntary exit survey.
Meng Amendment #12. Encourages the transition of military medical professionals into employment with the Veterans Health Administration upon discharge or separation from the Armed Forces.
Bost Amendment. Directs the VA to develop and implement a plan to hire a director for each VA medical center without a permanent director.
O’Rourke Amendment. Allows the VA to offer physicians conditional job offers two years prior to the completion of their residency program. Requires VA recruiters or similar official to visit each teaching institution with a residency program at least once annually.

Bill Text for H.R. 1367:
PDF Version

Background for H.R. 1367:
House Report (HTML Version)
House Report (PDF Version)

 
The Daily Quote

“Some of President Trump’s best friends in Congress sharply criticized his first budget Thursday… The bad mood among Republican critics was tempered by a consensus that the president’s budget wasn’t going very far on Capitol Hill… ‘While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive,’ Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) the former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.”

    -    Washington Post, 3/16/2017