WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and seven Senate Veteran Affairs Committee (SVAC) Republicans introduced a bill to increase transparency by requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to submit answers to Congress’s questions within 45 business days of receiving them. The Ensuring Access to VA Information Necessary for Oversight (INFO) Act would require VA to notify Members of Congress at any time during the 45-day period if they anticipate not meeting the deadline along with a justification of the inability, an estimate of when the response will be submitted, and a description of the outstanding steps required before submission.
“Our veterans sacrificed for us, and it’s Congress’s job to ensure they are being properly cared for,” said Dr. Cassidy.“This bill gives Congress the information we need to make sure veterans are getting the services they earned and were promised.”
“It is unacceptable that the VA routinely keeps members of Congress waiting on responses to questions, which allows the VA to sidestep oversight,” said Senator Tillis. “We need more transparency and accountability from VA leaders, especially during the implementation of the PACT Act and other laws that have passed. I’m proud to lead the introduction of the INFO Act to promote stronger oversight of the VA, which will help ensure veterans are getting the health care and benefits they earned.”
As SVAC refocuses on oversight this Congress after enacting transformational pieces of legislation, the VA INFO Act would allow for more effective oversight of PACT implementation, the Electronic Health Record Modernization program, the Caregiver Program, and more. It is Congress’s responsibility to provide oversight to ensure federal agencies are operating effectively and efficiently, and the lack of timely responses severely limits Congress’ ability to do so.
Cassidy and Tillis were joined by U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) in cosponsoring the bill.