December 07, 2022

Cortez Masto Cosponsors Legislation to Address VA Staffing Shortages by Increasing Employee Pay and Benefits

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) on bipartisan legislation to bolster the recruitment and retention of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) workforce.

“To make sure Nevada veterans get the benefits and services they deserve, we need to make sure the VA has the staff it needs, especially in rural areas,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “This bill will help make sure VA employees have competitive pay and benefits, as well as the training to do their jobs well and to support our veterans.”

The VA Workforce Improvement, Support, and Expansion (WISE) Act of 2022 would provide increased pay and benefits for VA’s workforce, expand opportunities in rural VA facilities, support training for current and future VA clinicians, and provide additional oversight of VA Human Resource operations and their use of hiring authorities. This legislation will also better prepare VA to respond to current and future toxic exposure claims.

The VA WISE Act of 2022 will do the following:

  • Allow increased pay for VA employees;
  • Extend the Department’s hiring, recruitment, and retention authorities, including extending temporary appointments and waiving pay limitations for employees performing mission critical work during the national health emergency;
  • Direct VA to develop and implement a national VA Rural Recruitment and Hiring Plan, including best practices for recruiting health care professionals to rural VA facilities; and
  • Create a Rural Health Quality and Access Fellowship program for graduate or post-graduate health care professionals to serve at a rural or highly rural VA facilities.

Senator Cortez Masto is a champion in the Senate advocating for our veterans and their families. In August, she voted to pass vital legislation to treat veterans exposed to toxins in the line of duty. In December of 2021, her legislation to protect VA benefits for student veterans was signed into law. She recently introduced bipartisan legislation to make it easier for veterans who have a service-related medical condition to get the benefits they are owed. Cortez Masto has passed legislation through the annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) to help veterans exposed to Agent Orange get the treatment they need. As part of the NDAA of 2021, she secured measures to improve mental health services for members of the National Guard and Reserves, support veterans in getting the retirement benefits owed to them, and increase the transparency and efficiency of the Department of Defense’s TRICARE medical billing practices.