House votes to fund DOJ probe of VA

Getty Images

The House late Wednesday night adopted a proposal to provide funding for a Justice Department investigation of the alleged mismanagement of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. 

Rep. Mike Coffman's (R-Colo.) amendment to the 2015 appropriations bill for the Justice Department, Commerce Department and science programs was adopted on a voice vote after 12 minutes of debate at nearly midnight.

ADVERTISEMENT
Coffman said that the allegations, particularly after a VA inspector general report earlier in the day found that veterans at a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix waited an average of 115 days for an appointment, merited a Justice Department review.

"When our service members are deprived of the quality healthcare they have earned, we must demand justice from those who are found responsible," Coffman said. 

Specifically, Coffman's proposal would provide the U.S. Attorneys within the Justice Department with an additional $1 million in fiscal 2015. It would be offset by cutting funds for the Justice Department's general administration salaries and expenses account by the same amount.

Coffman said that a VA inspector general investigation would not be enough.

"We have received credible allegations from numerous employees that multiple VA supervisors are instructing them to destroy evidence," Coffman said.

But Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, argued the inspector general report had not indicated that the quality of care - apart from wait times - was substandard. He warned that a Justice Department investigation would be unnecessary. 

"I think we don't want to create a situation where we don't have veterans seeking care based on misinformation," Fattah said.