Tester, Walz Lead 156 Members of Congress to Demand Trump Exempt Entire VA from Hiring Freeze
Federal Hiring Freeze Will Delay Veterans’ Access to Care and Benefits, and Hurt Veterans Seeking Federal Jobs
(U.S. Congress) - Ranking Members of the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees, Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Representative Tim Walz (D-Minn.), today led a group of 156 members of Congress to demand President Trump exempt the entire VA and all veterans seeking federal jobs from his executive order that freezes federal hiring.
The members say Trump's hiring freeze will have devastating impacts on veterans and their families.
"A hiring freeze at the VA will delay veterans' access to health care and resolution of their disability claims, which for many of our nation's heroes provides a sole source of income to them and their families," the members wrote. "Our nation's veterans should not be made to sacrifice any more than they already have while you review federal hiring."
The members additionally called on Trump to exempt all veterans seeking employment from his hiring freeze, underscoring that veterans make up 31 percent of the federal workforce. A hiring freeze across the federal government will hurt veterans, many of whom are transitioning from the military to civilian service and may be disabled.
"The negative impacts of this freeze will be felt across the country and disproportionately affect those men and women who have honorably served in our military," they added.
The Senators and Representatives emphasized that the hiring freeze will add to the chronic workforce shortages that are plaguing the VA, and that more doctors, nurses and administrative staff are needed at VA facilities to reduce wait times across the country and make payments on time.
The VA has reported it currently has more than 45,000 vacancies.
Dr. David Shulkin, Trump's VA Secretary nominee, has said "I need to fill every one of those openings in order to make sure that we're doing the very best for our veterans."
The VA has also reported that more than 40 percent of its senior officials are currently eligible for retirement. Efforts to replace each of these employees would be dramatically impaired by the hiring freeze.
There are currently more than 450,000 veterans waiting for the VA to fulfill the government's commitment and provide them with the benefits they earned while serving the country.
"I urge you to re-evaluate this hiring freeze and take into account the effect it will have on veterans who will have to wait longer for earned benefits," the group added.
Acting VA Director Robert Snyder this week said the VA will continue to hire front-line caregivers despite the President's executive order, but Tester, Walz and the other members want the entire VA exempt from the hiring freeze-including support staff, schedulers, IT specialists, and payment processers.
You create read the final letter HERE.