McConnell: Obama needs ‘capable manager’ to lead VA

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that the ball is now in President Obama’s court to address failures within the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that aims to to fix dysfunctions within the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system by holding officials accountable and providing veterans with more choices.

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McConnell said he hopes a conference committee with the House will quickly send a bill to Obama’s desk, but that Obama could still do more on his own.

“He still needs to nominate a capable manager who possesses the necessary skills, leadership, and determination to fix this scandal,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “he needs to use all the tools in his toolbox to address the systemic management failures — both the tools he has already, and the new ones we can provide him.”

The vote came the same day that the Justice Department ordered the FBI to open a criminal investigation into misconduct at the VA. An audit released Monday found the department has systematically concealed long wait times for care, with more than 57,000 veterans waiting at least 90 days to see a doctor.

McConnell called the scandal a “national disgrace.”

Former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned because of the medical backlogs that have resulted in the deaths of veterans. Obama has not yet announced who he will nominate to replace Shinseki.