Give teeth to VA reform law

One reason so many bureaucrats get away with murder is that the government so often does nothing more than slap them on the wrists, if even that. The standard excuse is that employment laws prevent any meaningful punishment.

After the wait-list scandal erupted at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Congress reacted by passing a law making it easier for the VA to fire senior executives. That was two years ago.

Such action was imperative in view of the cesspool the VA, in particular some of its medical centers, had become. Veterans of military service were being put on waiting lists for health care at VA facilities, despite serious medical problems. Some of the veterans died while they waited for help.

Little enough has been done to those guilty of misconduct – and possibly crimes – at the VA. Even less will happen to them now.

VA officials have revealed they will stop using the expedited firing authority Congress gave them – because the Justice Department has announced it will not defend such actions in court.

Federal agencies rely on the Justice Department for counsel when they are sued, so it is understandable VA officials are backing away from the new authority.

Yes, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her aides have decided they do not want to defend the VA reform law in court.

One wonders why, if Lynch and company had concerns about whether the law conflicted with other statutes or the Constitution, they did not convey them to Congress previously.

Be that as it may, from this White House and its political appointees, Americans have come to expect shoddy treatment.

Congress should act immediately to reinforce the law – and demand that both the VA and the Justice Department stand by it.