Shelby demands Justice Department investigate VA scandal

{}Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD.) today sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder.{} It calls for the Department of Justice to investigate the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.{} Shelby and Mikulski lead the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee.{} The bill that funds the Justice Department will be considered by the Committee next week.The text of the letter follows:Dear Attorney General Holder:{}We are deeply troubled by allegations that veterans may have suffered, or perhaps even died, due to lack of medical care while officials at the Department of Veterans affairs (VA) kept patients languishing on secret waiting lists while maintaining false patient care records purporting to show that no such delays existed. Further, allegations that VA employees may have submitted such false records in order to justify their own receipt of performance bonuses suggest the possibility that deceit and mistreatment may also have been compounded by fraud.{}These problems have dragged on long enough.{} We request that the Department of Justice immediately begin appropriate criminal and civil investigations into allegations that the VA falsified patient records at one or more of the VA's 150 medical centers and 820 community outpatient clinics. {}{}While we understand that the Department may already be working with the Inspector General of the VA on this matter, as the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of Senate Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, we believe the Department has the investigatory expertise and resources needed to swiftly and definitively determine whether any current or former VA officials violated the law. {}{}This tragedy has gone on far too long.{} Our veterans deserve justice not more delays. {}{}Sincerely,{}Barbara A. Mikulski{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Richard C. Shelby{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} {}Chairman{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Vice-Chairman{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} {}Committee on Appropriations{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Committee on Appropriations{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}