Kevin Strouse, the Democrat nominee who will face Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in the race for PA-8 in November, today expressed his disapproval of the way Congress is handling the VA backlog. In a press release Friday morning, he attacked the institution as a whole, rather than just his opponent Rep. Fitzpatrick.
In the growing scandal surrounding long wait times for veterans in need of medical treatment and the falsification of information regarding those wait times, more than 100 lawmakers have called for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki’s resignation, according to the New York Times. While Strouse thinks his resignation is necessary, he believes that more important issues need to be addressed. [Note: Shinseki resigned just hours ago].
“Many of the ongoing calls for Shinseki’s head sound a lot like political grandstanding during an election year,” Strouse claimed. “If members of Congress want to know who is responsible for the scandals at the VA and delays in claims processing, they should look in the mirror—Shinseki isn’t the only one to blame.”
The political grandstanding Strouse mentions seems to be something he does not wish to take part in. Instead of focusing solely on his opponent’s reputation of voting against additional aid to the VA, a typical political tactic in election years, he more broadly criticized the voting record of the entirety of Congress.
“I believe dramatic reforms within the VA are needed. However, just replacing Shinseki will not solve anything if Congress doesn’t accept its role in creating this crisis in the first place … Republicans in the House and Senate, including Congressman Fitzpatrick, have repeatedly voted against properly funding the VA,” Strouse wrote. “Moreover, as the Bush administration and the Republican Congress made plans to go to war, they failed to plan to treat returning soldiers who would need VA services after years in combat.”
Strouse’s own three tours of duty in Afghanistan and single tour in Iraq may have contributed to his call for systemic change rather than political charades. Overall, he displayed more of a willingness to address his genuine desire for reform rather than to simply express outrage at his opponent’s wrongdoings.
He still couldn’t resist, however, getting a jab in at the end.
“Congressman Fitzpatrick voted against hiring more claims processors to help reduce the backlog in veterans claims, and against funding suicide prevention services for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Congressman Fitzpatrick’s record has not served the best interest of our veterans,” he concluded.