Two Republican Senate hopefuls are calling on President Barack Obama to fire the head of Veterans Affairs.
On Monday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said the VA shouldn’t use wait times as a measure of success, comparing the wait times for health care to the house people wait for rides at Disney theme parks. McDonald said a veterans’ health-care experience was more important than the time spent waiting for an appointment.
His comments immediately came under fire, with House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the comments “disgusting and beyond the pale.” Ryan, according to the Associated Press, stopped short of calling for him to step down.
On Tuesday, Republicans Carlos Beruff and Carlos Lopez-Cantera called on the president to fire McDonald. In a statement, Beruff said McDonald’s comments “are proof he’s not the right man to get the VA back on track.”
“VA Secretary McDonald’s comments demonstrate ignorance and are proof he’s not the right man to get the VA back on track. In the real world, if things aren’t going well, new leadership is brought in to chart a new course,” said Beruff in a statement. “But in government, we often have a complete lack of accountability. It is long past time for accountability at the VA. Our veterans deserve leaders in Washington who will eliminate the bureaucratic inefficiencies and waste. President Obama should fire McDonald today.”
Lopez-Cantera said McDonald has “”grossly failed to hold himself or his agency accountable to our nation’s heroes.”
“With continued reports of manipulated wait times at the VA, Secretary Robert McDonald’s comments were not only uncalled for, they were indicative of an appallingly dismissive culture within the highest levels of the VA,” said Lopez-Cantera in a statement. “Waiting for care at the VA is certainly not the same thing as waiting in line at Disney, and the Secretary should be ashamed of his nonchalance. Veterans have died waiting for care, yet Mr. McDonald and the rest of his leadership team have failed to take care of those who cared enough to risk their lives to protect our freedoms.”
Beruff and Lopez-Cantera are among the five Republicans running to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. They’ll face Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.