Toomey supports changes to VA, wavers on Shinseki resignation
Ben Allen, WITF General Assignment Reporter | 05.30.14
(Wormleysburg) -- As Eric Shinseki resigns as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Pennsylvania's junior U.S. Senator Republican Pat Toomey is looking at more lasting changes.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio's bill allows for the V.A. Secretary to fire any senior employees for any reason and Toomey says he support the proposal.
The House has already passed the measure, but the chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has tabled it until later next month.
Toomey also says he'd like to see changes to accountability for individual employees and is proposing giving veterans the right to sue individual employees for wrongdoing.
Photo by Ben Allen/witf
Senator Toomey says there was a "broad and pervasive absence of ethics" in leadership at the VA.
He says other proposals floated include more funding for the V.A. and an opportunity for vets to get medical care outside the system.
"It's gonna be a little bit complicated, working that out. But this is what I'm going to be focusing on when I get back to Washington, working with my colleagues to find a mechanism to make sure that our veterans get the quality health care they need, when they need it."
Toomey spoke during an appearance in Wormleysburg, Cumberland County, saying he wasn't sure whether Shinseki was the best person to lead the V.A.
"Is there someone else who's better suited to restoring the confidence that veterans need to have in the VA? I'm still grappling with that to be honest with you, I think it's a tough call."
He says he’s concerned about what he calls the culture that permeates the top levels of the department.
But Toomey acknowledges there are systemic problems at the V-A, and says replacing the person at the top may solve little.
Despite calls for changes, the senator wouldn't offer a firm commitment to a proposal to fund another 27 V.A. centers.
Published in PA Policy