Source: Dallas Morning News
Updated at 5:00 p.m.: Alpine Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego responded by email. “Texans in Congress have a long history of sticking together on common-sense issues,” he said. “Protecting our veterans is not only a common sense issue, it’s a moral obligation and priority for all of us. We are working hard to make damn sure that we keep our promise to those who served.”
Original at 4:24 p.m.: WASHINGTON– As scrutiny intensifies over alleged misconduct at Veterans Affairs medical centers, one Texas Democrat facing a competitive reelection to Congress has joined GOP demands for an investigation.
Along with 23 Texas Republicans, Alpine Rep. Pete Gallego co-signed a letter asking the VA’s s inspector general to look into claims that employees purposely under-reported appointment wait times in San Antonio, Waco and Austin. The agency is already investigating the San Antonio office.
Gallego, a freshman, holds the only House seat in Texas not seen as a lock for the incumbent party in November.
Lawmakers in both parties have criticized the VA after a CNN report last month found that 40 veterans died in the Phoenix area while on a secret waiting list to see doctors. Last week, the Austin American-Statesman reported that VA officials in Austin, Waco and San Antonio had employe similar tactics.
Sen. John Cornyn, among others, has called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.
Gallego and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat, sent the VA a letter two weeks ago asking the agency to examine the El Paso VA. But O’Rourke did not join the latest letter. Other Democrats, including San Antonio Rep. Joaquin Castro, also have called for investigations.
Gallego ousted one-term Rep. Quico Canseco in 2012. Canseco faces former CIA officer Will Hurd in the May 27 runoff for the GOP nomination. Hurd led 41 percent to 40 percent in the March primary.
Nonpartisan analysts at the Rothenberg Political Report say Gallego remains favored to keep the sprawling West Texas district in Democratic hands. If he does, he would snap a losing streak by District 23 incumbents that reflects how competitive the district has been; in 2010, Canseco unseated Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, a Democrat.
Clear Lake Rep. Steve Stockman was the only Texas Republican who did not sign the VA letter. Spokesman Donny Ferguson said he supports the investigation but missed the deadline to sign on.