Tuberville Calls for Transparency from the VA Secretary

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) questioned U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough during a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Senator Tuberville asked Secretary McDonough about the rehiring of VA employees fired under the VA Accountability Act and reiterated his request for data related to taxpayer-funded abortions facilitated by the VA.

Read the Senator’s remarks below or watch on YouTube or Rumble.

TUBERVILLE: “Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thanks for being here.

We’re having in Alabama, we’re having huge problems with doctors, exhaustion, nerves, exhaustion, lines are long.”


TUBERVILLE: “Are you hearing that?”

McDONOUGH: “Yeah. Well, interestingly, in our most recent surveys, [provider] burnout is down on our employee engagement surveys. That’s a good thing. That has to do a lot with generous authorities you’ve given us for pay increases and some decisions that we’re making about how we’re treating veterans. So, we feel much better this year than I did a year ago when I was talking about.”


TUBERVILLE: “I had a situation in Tuscaloosa. My VA over there. [A] gentlemen, basically, had [to] have some special service done.”


TUBERVILLE: “[It was] approved a few days later [and the VA called, saying,] ‘you know, you can’t do it. You can’t do Community Care in town. You gotta go 100-150 miles away.’ What rules and regulations do your doctors and administrators go by when it comes from VA care to Community Care. I mean, does that have to be approved by somebody?

Does it have to go up the chain. Are they set by you or your staff?”

McDONOUGH: “Yeah. Well, they’re set by regulation and by the law. And so, it depends on what exactly this engagement was. And I obviously love to follow-up directly with you and with that veteran on it. 

It has to do with, A.) is it in the first instance primary care or is it specialty care?

Then it has to do with [B.)] where that veteran’s home is and how far is and how far is that home from Tuscaloosa.

[…] In your in your state and in your VISN, entirely 70 percent of veterans are eligible right now. In New Hampshire and in Alaska, it’s 100 percent of veterans because there’s no full-service hospital. So, if that’s the case, if you’re 30 minutes from a facility for primary care, you qualify off the bat. Irrespective of whether the private provider is 45 minutes from where you are 60 minutes from where you are. So, we just got to do a better job of making sure that the veteran has an informed choice.”

TUBERVILLE: “Let me ask you about this one.

This is a kind of old news here. You know, the VA came to a settlement with the union. Related to the termination of employment approximately, what, 4,000 people.”


TUBERVILLE: “Who had been fired under the accountability of the authority enforce by President Trump.”

McDONOUGH: “Right.”

TUBERVILLE: “You know, through Congress in some instances, they were terminated because of egregious, you know, criminal negligence.”

McDONOUGH: “Right.”

TUBERVILLE: “But they’ve been brought back.


McDONOUGH: “Not entirely correct.

The action that was taken that you referred to was subject to both administrative body reviews, so Merit System Protection Board, National Labor Relations Board, and subject to Federal Judicial ruling, leaving us really very little option to manage. 

So, what I did is I engaged in a settlement arrangement with the union where I said, those employees alleged to have carried out, as you said, ‘egregious activity,’ would not be welcomed back. And so, they are not welcome back. So, I could get you the exact numbers of the [approximately] 4,000.

It’s you know, we can get you an update. I think we’re keeping your teams pretty well updated on those numbers over time. But those, again, by virtue of the fact that we’re before administrative bodies and Federal Courts, that settlement includes a lot of things that, you know, we wouldn’t necessarily choose to do of our own accord to include backpay [and] things like that. But […] bringing these employees back who are charged with egregious misconduct was not something I would agree to.”


TUBERVILLE: “[That] we don’t put anybody in harm’s way. Still hadn’t got the counting of abortion in VA.”

McDONOUGH: “Yeah.”

TUBERVILLE: “Get that to me.”

McDONOUGH: “I did promise to you that, but I’ve also ascertained that we’ve given those numbers, I think, relatively recently to the Committee. And since, generally, that’s the kind of information that […] we would require a Chairman or Ranking Member letter on.

We’ve also communicated to your team that that’s available to the Committee and we’ll get you those updated numbers.”

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.