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Bipartisan Deal Reached On Bill To Make It Easier To Fire VA Employees

Congressional Republicans and Democrats reached a deal Thursday that could make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire its employees. The measure had been in limbo since the 2014 wait-time scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center.

As many as 40 veterans died while waiting months for appointments as VA employees created secret waiting lists and other falsehoods to cover up delays.

The bipartisan deal followed a fresh warning from the VA inspector general of continuing patient safety problems at another facility in Washington, D.C.

The Senate measure softens portions of a bill that had passed the House in March, which Democrats criticized as unfairly harsh on workers.

This week, a federal appeals court temporarily overturned the VA firing of Phoenix VA hospital Director Sharon Helman over the wait-time scandal, saying she deserved more time to appeal her case.

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.