Tim Vandenack
Tim Vandenack
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Hear Rep. Walorski during the heated hearing on VA health care

She grilled three VA reps, echoing the growing frustration of many U.S. lawmakers over faulty VA health care provision.

Posted on May 29, 2014 at 8:34 p.m.

Thursday May 29, 2014

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, like many political leaders, had tough words for three U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reps as the controversy embroiling the agency heats up.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee heard testimony Wednesday evening from Thomas Lynch, an assistant deputy secretary in the VA, and a pair of VA congressional liaisons, Joan Mooney and Michael Huff. Coming amid increasing calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation and a report critical of VA care of veterans, which has led to the deaths of some, they took a walloping.

Scroll down to see video of Walorski, a Republican, heatedly asking questions of the three during the hearing. She’s a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee and one of many who have called for Shinseki to step down. Or read on for some highlights, like this exchange between Walorski and Lynch:

Walorski: "Dr. Lynch does the buck stop with you on these deaths? Do you accept the bulk of the responsibility for what’s happened? Are you responsible?"

Lynch: "Congresswoman..."

Walorski: "Yes or no, are you responsible? Does the buck stop with you Dr. Lynch?"

Lynch: "I don’t know if it does, but I consider myself responsible, congresswoman."

Then there was this exchange between Walorski and Huff:

Walorski: "Mr Huff, do you share this responsibility? Does the buck stop with you?"

Huff: “Congresswoman I am a...”

Walorski: “Yes or no. Does the buck stop with anybody?”

Huff: “...staff level congressional relations officer who is a civil servant and also a veteran. I’m not a supervisor, I’m a staff-level federal employee and I do the best job I can.”

Walorski: “Mr. Huff, does the responsibility lie with Secretary Shinseki? Do you still believe in his leadership ability to stand up to a five-alarm fire? Where in the world is the urgency?”

Then Walorski and Mooney had this exchange:

Mooney: “Congresswoman, our focus remains on caring for these veterans..."

Walorski: "If that’s the case Ms. Mooney...”

Mooney: “May I finish?”

Walorski: “No, because I have five minutes. Ms. Mooney if that has been the case, how could Dr. Lynch go to Arizona [where a Phoenix VA office is focus of particularly intense scrutiny for faulty care provision] and not talk to anybody involved that had anything directly to do with this and there’s 40 unexplained deaths? ...I have more questions tonight than I had when I walked in here because we learned what you don’t know.”

Shortly thereafter, this exchanged followed:

Walorski: “So are you responsible? Do you take that responsibility?"

Mooney: "I’ll take the responsibility, absolutely."

Walorski: "Well, what are you going to do with that responsibility? Are you going to stay in your position? Are you going to apologize? Are you going to resign? Are you going to ask for the resignation of the secretary?"

Mooney: “Congresswoman, I am going to stay in my position and fight for veterans and fight for this Congress that I love. Working together and really meaning it, working together for the good of our veterans, that’s what the public expects and that’s what I am committed to.”

Walorski: "And look what the public got. The public got, and 40 veterans died. This is what the public got."

Walorski has been a tough critic of the VA, particularly stemming from the care veterans receive from the agency. In March, she gave the weekly Republican address touting House Resolution 4031, a bill that would allow for the removal of top VA officials based on poor performance.

Here’s video from Wednesday’s hearing:

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.

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