‘Swamp’ cleanup must include Department of Veterans Affairs
A package of emergency funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs was approved by the U.S. Senate in recent weeks. It includes $2.1 billion for a special program to ensure veterans are not kept waiting for health care treatment at VA facilities.
Meanwhile, the agency continues to spend in some ways like a drunken sailor — with some of its officials lying to Congress about that.
But the bureaucracy takes care of its own. Officials at the Justice Department have declined to prosecute two VA officials for misleading Congress about the cost of a new veterans hospital being built in Aurora, Colo.
Repeatedly during the much-delayed project, lawmakers asked VA officials about cost overruns. No problem, they were told.
Yet the project, still unfinished, now has a price tag of nearly $1.7 billion. That is three times earlier estimates.
Several investigations of the project have uncovered massive mismanagement, including approval of more costly than necessary designs. The VA’s own inspector general reported last year that one official knew big cost overruns were coming — but did not tell Congress when asked in 2013 and 2014.
Some lawmakers think two VA officials committed perjury in their testimony.
But the Justice Department says no. So both VA officials (one has retired) will escape punishment for their misdeeds.
President Donald Trump has vowed to clean up “the swamp” in Washington. Clearly, some of the creatures within it don’t plan to cooperate.