Cornyn to Obama: Appoint someone to investigate VA deaths

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) demanded that President Obama appoint someone to investigate a recent report that a Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix maintained a "secret waiting list" to avoid reporting on extended care delays.

“The president needs to designate a point person to deal with this,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor Thursday. “I would think this scandal in the Veterans Affairs Department and the way our veterans are being treated would at least merit the same response as the failure of the healthcare website roll out.”

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President Obama appointed someone to fix the failed healthcare exchange website shortly after it launched. Cornyn said taking care of veterans should be just as important, if not more, to the administration.

The recent report found that 40 veterans died because they didn’t receive the care they needed at the Arizona VA facility.

Cornyn said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) should also order the committees with jurisdiction to hold emergency hearings on the situation to ensure it’s not a wider-scale problem.

“I urge the majority leader to ask the committees with jurisdiction to hold emergency hearings to get to the bottom of this,” Cornyn said. “We need to know of this is endemic to whole VA system.”

Cornyn and many lawmakers have been critical of the VA claims backlog that has left some veterans waiting hundreds of days to receive services. 

“The VA’s failure to meet its obligations is an ongoing scandal,” Cornyn said. “We owe a moral obligation not just a legal obligation to those veterans to keep our commitments to them. ... I’m sorry to says the Department of Veterans Affairs has outrageously failed to keep those commitments.”