APNewsBreak: VA abruptly drops plan to suspend ethics law

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The Department of Veterans Affairs abruptly dropped plans Wednesday to suspend an ethics law barring employees from receiving benefits from for-profit colleges. The move comes after criticism from government watchdogs who warned of financial entanglements with private companies vying for millions in GI Bill tuition.

In a statement to The Associated Press, the VA said it had received “constructive comments” on the Trump administration plan and as a result would delay action.

As recently as Tuesday, the department had told AP it would implement the waiver next Monday, citing the lack of any “significant adverse comment.” It changed its position after it was asked about rising opposition to the plan.

“VA has submitted paperwork to the Federal Register today, to be published Friday so that the notice is withdrawn,” spokesman Curt Cashour said Wednesday.

The VA published the proposal on Sept. 13, calling the 50-year-old law outdated and unfair to VA employees who it said often have no real conflicts of interest. It cited as an example a VA doctor who receives payment for teaching courses as an adjunct professor.

The federal ethics law, passed in 1966 in the wake of several scandals involving the for-profit education industry, calls for dismissal of any VA employee who receives “any wages, salary, dividends, profits, gratuities, or services” from a for-profit school in which a veteran is also enrolled using VA GI Bill benefits.

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