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house Bill H.R. 2911

Should the VA Report to Congress on its Use of COVID-19 Emergency Funding?

Argument in favor

Requiring the VA to report to Congress is an important means of ensuring that the agency is held accountable for its spending. Ensuring accountability and transparency is more important than ever, given that the VA has received over $300 billion in emergency funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

larubia's Opinion
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05/17/2021
Every entity receiving emergency COVID funding from the federal government should be accountable for how the money is spent. The VA has received billions of dollars for this purpose. The VA needs to be accountable for how this money has been/will be spent.
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Brian's Opinion
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05/18/2021
The VA must be fully transparent, as it's a government-run agency, and one of the largest organizations in the US. We the people must know how it spent its COVID-19 emergency funding to increase transparency and accountability.
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Brian's Opinion
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05/18/2021
Given the sense of mismanagement of the VA. I believe it is in the best interest of transparency that the VA give an accounting of how Covid Emergency Funds were used and an accounting of the affects of Covid on veterans.
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Argument opposed

The VA, like many other government agencies, is busy responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although transparency and accountability are important, now is not the time to add to federal agencies’ administrative burdens while they are still working with reduced office staff and increased responsibilities amidst the ongoing public health crisis.

Robert 's Opinion
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05/18/2021
How about congress worrying about the fact that our southern border is wide open and illegal aliens are being released without quarantine or testing into the heartland of the United States. Here are the latest figures since January 20th at noontime to present 119 days. Cases 8,482,957 new cases 61,438 Deaths 318,658 new deaths 1,387. Congress pass a bill to close the border immediately and build the wall. IMPEACH FORTY SIX
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Ronald's Opinion
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05/17/2021
Congress has a terrible oversight record. Thy report to Our (currently illegitimate) executive branch.
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Bruce's Opinion
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05/17/2021
Bureaucrats love useless paperwork. If you want accountants hire accountants. If you want Doctors, Nurses, Aides, etc., let them do their jobs--caring for patients.
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What is House Bill H.R. 2911?

This bill, the VA Transparency & Trust Act of 2021, would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report to Congress on how the agency has spent the tens of billions of dollars in emergency funding allocated to it during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The VA would be required to give this information to Congress on a regular basis. Additionally, the VA Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to audit and publicly report on the agency’s emergency relief spending.

Impact

Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA); Government Accountability Office (GAO); Congress; and the VA Inspector General.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2911

$2.00 Million
The CBO estimates that this bill would cost two million to implement over the 2021-2026 period.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) introduced this bill to require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) to report to Congress on how it spent tens of billions of dollars of emergency funding received during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“No matter how worthy the cause, taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned money is spent. Congress has given VA tens of billions of dollars to respond to COVID-19 on top of the hundreds of billions of dollars that make up VA’s regular budget. We have gotten very little information in return about how that money will be spent. This bill will fix that. It is supported by my friends and colleagues from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol as well as by VA. Hopefully we can get it to the President’s desk quickly.”

This legislation passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee by a 22-6 vote with the support of five bipartisan House cosponsors, including four Democrats and one Republican.


Of NoteIn FY2021, Congress gave the VA $243.3 billion in funding. This represents the agency’s largest-ever base budget. In addition to this, Congress gave the VA $36.63 billion dollars in emergency relief funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes:


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Feverpitched)

AKA

VA Transparency & Trust Act of 2021

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a plan for obligating and expending Coronavirus pandemic funding made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
  • The house Passed May 17th, 2021
    Roll Call Vote 411 Yea / 4 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Veterans' Affairs
    IntroducedApril 30th, 2021

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    Every entity receiving emergency COVID funding from the federal government should be accountable for how the money is spent. The VA has received billions of dollars for this purpose. The VA needs to be accountable for how this money has been/will be spent.
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    How about congress worrying about the fact that our southern border is wide open and illegal aliens are being released without quarantine or testing into the heartland of the United States. Here are the latest figures since January 20th at noontime to present 119 days. Cases 8,482,957 new cases 61,438 Deaths 318,658 new deaths 1,387. Congress pass a bill to close the border immediately and build the wall. IMPEACH FORTY SIX
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    All government & private entities receiving Covid, FEMA, Grants, Stimulus, etc need to be accountable. The real question is how should this be done consistently as they are a variety of guidances and who will review such a large disbursement of money to so many organizations? Saying it should be done is motherhood & apple pie, how to do it is the challenge. https://www.ncsl.org/ncsl-in-dc/publications-and-resources/state-oversight-of-federal-stimulus-funds.aspx https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_audit-related-guidance-entities-receiving_public-assistance_4-6-2021.pdf https://taggs.hhs.gov/ https://www.pandemicoversight.gov/oversight/reports?f%5B0%5D=report_type_taxonomy%3A89 https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-191.pdf https://www.pogo.org/analysis/2020/05/administration-seeks-to-minimize-transparency-of-coronavirus-relief-funds/
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    Why not?
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    The VA must be fully transparent, as it's a government-run agency, and one of the largest organizations in the US. We the people must know how it spent its COVID-19 emergency funding to increase transparency and accountability.
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    More accountability, more transparency.
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    Reposted with Edits & Addenda] PASSED IN THE HOUSE 411 TO 4. In principle, I agree with having all governmental agencies at every level having transparency and accountability mandates and well-vetted, easily auditable protocols implemented. I would think that the Government Accountability Office would weigh in on the issue and conduct the needed audits. (See below.) However, it appears that there may be administrative and staffing hurdles that need to be addressed going forward at the VA. Providing COVID-related services to veterans *must* be the priority. Is implementing accountability burdensome? Given that the VA has had a computerized accounting system since the early 1960s, why haven't accountability procedures been built into that system by now, 2021!? Our representatives should mandate _and_ *fund* the implementation of accountability protocols such that they automatically update when orders or services are fulfilled and make sure that needed reports are easily generated. * https://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2016/05/10-oldest-it-systems-federal-government/128599/ ADDENDA #1 Given that the bill passed including a $2 Million allocation to implement COVID service accountability this should hopefully be an adequate solution. However it likely means that the current VA information systems still need a major overhaul. #2 (Intended as a separate additional comment.) A Good Bureaucracy: Accountable & Transparent! @Leslie wrote: "The real question is how should this be done consistently as they are a variety of guidances and who will review such a large disbursement of money to so many organizations?" In response: 1. While the Accounting profession has numerous guidelines for financial reporting, I don't think each agency should be required to pigeonhole their financial situation into consistent reports, just that the information is transparent and accurate. The Parks Department is not the Treasury Department. FEMA is not the Department of Agriculture. Et Cetera. 2. There is an agency charged with assuring transparency and accountability; that agency is the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). 3. There should be accountants trained as analysts who specialize in auditing each agency’s unique financial aspects. 4. If I'm not mistaken, each agency has its internal auditors as well. “GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency in the legislative branch of the U.S. Government charged with several basic responsibilities: to assist the Congress, committees and Members to carry out their legislative, budget control, and oversight or review responsibilites; to carry out financial control and other functions relating to U.S. Government programs and operations; and to review the programs and operations of U.S. Government agencies and recommend improvements to make them more efficient and effective. About a third of GAO's professional staff's time is spent in responding to requests to investigate specific matters made by statute, committee chairmen, or individual members of the Congress. Over half of the professional staff is involved in audit work on Federal programs and activities undertaken on GAO's own initiative and reported on to the Congress. There are three broad categories of audits: audits of financial operations and legal compliance; audits of efficiency and economy of operations; and audits of program results. GAO audits private firms under contract to produce goods and services for the Government; and units of State and local governments which receive Federal funds. GAO tries to maintain good communication with Federal, State, and local internal audit organizations, to use the work of these organizations, and to strengthen all levels of government audits. There is also developing audit cooperation and coordination at an international level.” https://www.gao.gov/products/100454
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    Given the sense of mismanagement of the VA. I believe it is in the best interest of transparency that the VA give an accounting of how Covid Emergency Funds were used and an accounting of the affects of Covid on veterans.
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    Yes, without a doubt. This would not only ensure accountability and transparency, but require a needed accounting of all expenditures, if npt already in place, whether it be for Covid-19 or other. I do not see this request as being a big deal.
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    Remember when the previous incumbent got rid of oversight of the CARES Act and PPP funds? I do.
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    The VA was appropriately given funds to be used to provide COVID care to our veterans. Accountability dictates that the VA inform Congress as to how these funds were used.
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    This money was intended serve the veterans who have served their country. The legislators who authorized the funding and the American people whose taxes made it possible, have a right to know that the money was spent efficiently and compassionately. As a matter of fact, all government agencies have a duty to provide such assurance.
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    Yes, this should be the case for any government entity to help prevent misspending or fraud. Even the federal government should be more accountable to the public. No hidden agendas—that has gone on far too long!! What is Bryan Miranda?
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    Transparency is a requirement for democracy to succeed
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    Well every government should be transparent with COVID-19 monies, including the VA. As far as Congress goes how worthless is there accountability with any money spending. I can only speak for our VA here in Reno, they did an excellent job for getting Veterans, Caregivers their shots in a fashionable order. Along with caring of veterans durning this pandemic. I can not speak for other VA facilities, but I am sure they did the best they could. But don’t be just selecting a government agencies just because you are singling out an agency to make yourself look good. It has to be ALL government agencies that were given covid money.
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    Bureaucrats love useless paperwork. If you want accountants hire accountants. If you want Doctors, Nurses, Aides, etc., let them do their jobs--caring for patients.
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    Congress has a terrible oversight record. Thy report to Our (currently illegitimate) executive branch.
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    Absolutely
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    The VA already submits reports on how it’s budget is spent each quarter...a law is not required just to ensure this-the Covid money is all earmarked for certain jobs and services- all of this is written in policy. It would be done anyway assuming hospital directors wish to retain their jobs. The only reason they haven’t seen anything yet may be because the fiscal year doesn’t end until 9/30. This is a redundant bill that panders to fiscal conservatives to appears to improve me something but actually does nothing at all 🙄. But hey, if there is some sort of “Bill quota” they need to meet to justify their existence- go for it 😒.
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    Vote yes please
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