Bill would prevent bonuses for VA senior officials

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) has introduced legislation to prevent senior Veterans Affairs Department officials from receiving bonuses until there is no longer a claims backlog.

Gardner, who is running for Senate in a competitive race against Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), said it would prevent officials from being rewarded while the department is not keeping up with veterans' benefits claims.

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"Bonuses are typically handed out as a reward for a job well-done," Gardner said. "It’s appalling that there are some high-level officials at the VA who treat our nation’s heroes in this manner, yet are still rewarded with bonuses."

In addition, Gardner's measure would establish a commission to evaluate the VA backlog.

"It is equally important that a new system is developed to clear the backlog of cases that currently exists," Gardner said.

Gardner's bill is one of several proposals in recent days to overhaul the VA. For instance, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) on Friday introduced legislation that would allow veterans to get care outside VA facilities if wait times are too long.

Earlier this month, the House voted 390-33 to give the VA secretary expanded authority to fire or demote senior executives.