The VA scandal is the newest hot topic in Washington and Republicans were quick to pounce on it. Republican lawmaker after Republican lawmaker made sure to place the blame at the doorstep of President Obama but they seem to have a short term memory problem.
When the news broke that there was a possible cover up happening at a Veterans Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona, many turned their heads and focused their attention. The allegations stated that there were long wait times that were being covered up by hospital officials, many of those wait times resulting in death, On May 15, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki testified to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee after an investigation was launched to look into the alleged cover up for what the Washington Post called "preventable deaths and attempts to cover up treatment delays at VA health clinics."
Many on the political left and right gathered together their talking points, stuck their finger out and pointed it in the direction to where they put the blame. Republicans have called for the resignation of Shinseki and others, like former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, have called President Obama "lazy" in his handling of the situation. To see where the real scandal is one would only have to rewind time three months to the floor of the United States Senate.
A vote was called in the United States Senate to approve a $24 billion bill to expand federal health care and education programs for veterans. As Reuters points out, the bill would have funded the creation of 27 much needed VA hospitals and medical facilities.
"Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans' programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."
With 60 votes needed to pass the bill, it was shut down in partisan fashion by a vote of 56-41. All but four of the 45 Senate Republicans voted no on the bill and it was quickly forgotten. Republicans attempted to attach an amendment to the bill for increased sanctions on Iran, but there was no movement by the Democrats.
Independent senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders has been pushing for the bill to pass stating that Republicans and Democrats should "rise above the day-to-day rancor and the party politics that we see on this floor almost every single day." As Sanders notes, 22 million veterans, including two million who have recently served in Iraq and Afghanistan, would have been affected.
Republicans are now trying to turn the VA scandal into another political issue and are attempting to wipe their hands clean of the situation. The issue at hand is a real issue, a real scandal, but it's one that many need to be held accountable for including 41 Republicans in the Senate who voted "no" on the recent bill.