Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald on Wednesday asked a Republican lawmaker who served in both Iraq wars, “What have you done?” as the two men sparred over huge cost overruns at a troubled Denver VA hospital.
McDonald was defending the VA’s budget at a hearing when he and Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman tussled over construction delays and cost increases at the long-delayed hospital project.
After a few minutes of arguing, McDonald snapped at Coffman: “I’ve run a large company, sir. What have you done?”
Coffman, an Army veteran, did not respond at the hearing. But the four-term lawmaker said in a statement later that he could tell McDonald a few things he hasn’t done.
“I have never run a federal agency that tolerates corruption the way the VA has. I’ve never built a hospital that’s years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget. And I’ve never been a shill for inept bureaucrats who allowed American heroes to die on a medical waiting list,” he said.
The last comment was a reference to a wait-time scandal that cost former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki his job. McDonald, a former Procter & Gamble CEO, took over as VA secretary in July. He has vowed to improve VA’s delivery of services such as health care and disability benefits and make it a “model” for other government agencies.