Allison Graves
By Allison Graves August 17, 2016

Rubio says he wrote, passed veteran affairs bill

Marco Rubio is touting his support for veterans in his latest campaign ad ahead of the Aug. 30 primary in the Florida Senate race.

The ad opens with snippets from veterans in the Army, Marines and Navy who are backing Rubio for his efforts to help veterans.

After a few testimonials, the screen cuts to text that reads, "Marco Rubio wrote and passed bipartisan legislation allowing the VA to fire negligent workers."

We wondered if this was correct, so we looked into it.

The bill in question

Rubio’s campaign cited the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014, which included stipulations that give the VA secretary the ability to fire Senior Executive Service workers if their performance warrants it.

The bill (S.2013) was sponsored by Rubio. A related bill passed in the House, but Rubio's bill didn’t go anywhere in the Senate. So we wondered why Rubio said it "passed."

Turns out, Rubio’s legislation was included word-for-word in a larger bill known as the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, which was signed into law in August 2014. This law addressed the Veteran’s Health Administration scandal in 2014, in which Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned following outcry that the VA had falsified data in regards to the long wait times veterans were met with when using VA hospitals.

This bill passed the Senate 93-3, with four members not voting. It passed in the House 265-160, with six members not voting.

One highlight from the law provides for more accountability for negligent senior managers of the law, which includes the ability to remove or demote senior executive officers for misconduct.

Rubio had a role in the passage of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014.

News reports provided by his spokeswoman backed this up.

A McClatchy DC report in March gave Rubio credit for playing a "vital role" in the final legislation, although the specific overhaul he sponsored did not pass.

Another report from CBS Miami mentions that Rubio was asked to be a part of the committee that oversees problems with veteran’s health care: "While he is not a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rubio was asked to be part of the conference committee due to his work in sponsoring the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014."

And finally, Capitol newspaper The Hill said Rubio’s section about firing negligent VA workers was included in the overall bill-turned-law.

Our ruling

Marco Rubio’s latest ad said he "wrote and passed bipartisan legislation allowing the VA to fire negligent workers."

This is fairly accurate, with the one caveat being that his legislation was included in a larger bill, and passed as law with other reforms to the VA system.

We rate this Mostly True.

Editor's Note: This fact-check was updated Aug. 25, 2016, to clarify House action on a bill related to Rubio's.

Our Sources

Email interview, Olivia Perez-Cubas, Marco Rubio spokesperson, Aug. 12 & 15, 2016

Senate Bill 2013, Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act of 2014, Feb. 11, 2014 (introduced)

House Resolution 3230, Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014, Aug. 7, 2014, signed into law

YouTube, "Served," Aug. 12, 2016

The Hill, "Obama signs VA reform bill into law," Aug. 7, 2014

CBS Miami, "Rubio Named To House-Senate Committee On VA Reform Bill," June 18, 2014

McClatchy DC, "For Rubio and others, turning ideas into law is a daunting task," March 16, 2015

The Washington Post, "Everything you need to know about the VA — and the scandals engulfing it," May 30, 2014

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Rubio says he wrote, passed veteran affairs bill

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