'Veterans died! Get us the answers!': Republicans boil over as Veterans Affairs officials answer subpoenas with excuses and blank stares
One Tennessee congressman told a VA official: 'I don't understand how you can stand at a mirror and look at yourself in the mirror, and shave in the morning, and not throw up'
The House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman barked at one witness: 'Ma’am! Ma’am! Ma’am! Ma’am! Veterans died! Get us the answers, please!'
The rare nighttime hearing was called to investigate the mismanagement of VA medical facilities, a system that the aegncy's inspector general eviscerated on Wednesday
His report found 'systemic' problems at the cabinet-level agency, including an average wait time of 115 days for vets to see a doctor for the first time
By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor
Published: 23:07 EST, 28 May 2014 | Updated: 23:14 EST, 28 May 2014
Sparks flew during a rare late-night hearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, as visibly upset Republicans raked VA officials over the coals while the ink was still wet on a scathing inspector general report condemning the agency's deadly failures.
The report found that in Phoenix, Arizona alone, 1,700 U.S. military veterans were denied medical care and others waited an average of 115 days to be seen by a doctor – and that officials covered up the lapses by manipulating wait-lists and other official records.
Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe, a physician and veteran of the Army Medical Corps, summed up the mood on Capitol Hill when he addressed Dr. Thomas Lynch, the VA's assistant deputy undersecretary for health.
Noting that the three officials at the witness table are well-paid but presided over a system that ignored the needs of cash-strapped veterans who are locked into the VA health system, he leveled a sledgehammer at Lynch
'What I don't understand is, as a veteran – as a doctor, as a practitioner – I don't understand how you can stand at a mirror and look at yourself in the mirror, and shave in the morning, and not throw up,' he said, 'knowing that you've got people out there ... how in the world?'