McConnell: Obama Should Give VA Same Urgency as Obamacare

Monday, 19 May 2014 10:23 PM

By Greg Richter

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Sen. Mitch McConnell says he's happy to hear that President Barack Obama is "madder than hell" about veterans' being put on secret waiting lists, but he would like to see him take some action.

"Why doesn't he have the kind of attention applied to this as he did to the Obamacare website?" the Kentucky Republican said Monday on Fox News Channel's "The Kelly File."

"The VA's been a problem for a long time," he said.

McConnell's words come amid reports that the Obama administration was told about the wait-time problems during the transition period by the Bush administration.

"He needs to step up to the plate," McConnell said, and not blame the problem on Bush or the Republicans in Congress. "He's the CEO of the country."

Story continues below video.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told a press conference Monday that Obama first learned of the problems of secret waiting lists when they were reported in the media weeks ago. Those secret lists held the names of veterans who applied for treatment with VA hospitals. They waited weeks and months before being put on official lists in computers to make it appear the hospitals were meeting 14-day guidelines for wait times.

The VA has admitted that 23 veterans died awaiting care, but reports from around the country allege higher numbers. 

McConnell said it doesn't matter that Obama just found out about the problems at the Phoenix VA facility, which was where the first of the recent allegations began.

"We've known for years," McConnell said. "I had the secretary of the Veterans Administration in my office a year and a half ago on the same subject, and other members have as well."

McConnell said the whole agency is "completely out of control."

McConnell, the Senate minority leader, faces a primary battle Tuesday against tea party challenger Matt Bevin. Bevin supporters have threatened to stay home if he fails to beat McConnell, which could put the seat in Democratic hands.

McConnell told Kelly he isn't concerned.

There are always hurt feelings after a primary, he said, but predicted the party would unite because Kentuckians are not sympathetic to Obama's agenda and won't send someone to the Senate to make Democrat Harry Reid the majority leader again.

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