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Lawmaker: Best way to let VA officials know reform is needed is to 'fire a few people

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., holds up two pages of resource requests from the Department of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 24, 2014, as he questions Department of Veterans Affairs acting secretary Sloan Gibson on how to restore trust to the beleaguered agency. (AP Photo) AP Photo

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said Thursday that the best way to get Department of Veterans Affairs employees to improve their performance on the job is to fire the bad ones.

In an interview with NewsRadio 1620 in Pensacola, Miller said that most VA employees understand that it's time to respond to the VA health care scandal by focusing on getting heatlh care to the nation's veterans. But even after the national scandal, Miller said some in the VA are still part of the problem, and should be fired.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said Thursday that firing corrupt VA officials is the best way to let the VA know that Congress and others are serious about reform. (AP Photo)

"There are still some outliers out there that don't get it, and that's why now the legislation that was passed before we returned home for the August work period was in fact to give the secretary the ability to fire high-level individuals who are in supervisory positions," Miller said.

"You fire a few people, and people begin to understand you're serious."

Despite Miller's remarks, the VA has moved slowly to fire or demote officials involved in the scandal. The law approved last month lets the VA take these steps and gives employees access to a 21-day appeals process, but VA Secretary Robert McDonald has yet to say he will use this process.

On Thursday, top VA officials in Alabama were put on administrative leave for their role in covering up long wait times for veterans But that happened only after a House Committee pressed the VA for details about how one official took a veteran to a crack house.

McDonald has defended most VA officials so far, and has indicated he would rather work to retrain VA employees rather than fire them.

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