The House of Representatives passed legislation Monday to increase reporting of employee bonuses at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Department of Veterans Bonus Transparency Act sponsored by U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney was approved by voice vote. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs passed the bill last week.

Tenney, R-New Hartford, introduced the bill in an attempt to boost oversight of VA employee bonuses. In 2014, the agency paid more than $142 million in bonuses to 156,000 employees. The total bonuses paid rose to $177 million in 2015, according to a Washington Times report.

The VA has been criticized in recent years for long wait times at some facilities. Despite those woes, the agency still paid bonuses to executives and staff.

Under Tenney’s bill, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to submit an annual report to Congress at the end of the fiscal year listing the bonuses awarded to senior level employees.

The VA must include information about the employees’ job titles and the location of their employment.

“Increasing oversight will help to ensure that our veterans, who have made the selfless sacrifice to serve our nation, receive the highest quality of care possible,” Tenney said in a statement. “I have no doubt that the men and women of the VA serve our veterans admirably each day. In fact, I know that many of them do.”

Tenney noted that her district is home to VA clinics in Binghamton and Rome. She also mentioned the VA hospital in Syracuse, which is where many veterans in central New York seek care.

“However, given the patterns of mismanagement at the VA, it is imperative that Americans know how bonuses are being awarded at the agency,” she said. “Moreover, Congress deserves to receive this information in a timely manner without having to request it each year.”

Tenney’s bill received bipartisan support when it was introduced. The cosponsors included U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, a western New York Republican, and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii.

By: Robert Harding

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