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McCain, Flake React To Obama's Remarks On VA Scandal

Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake say they’re skeptical of President Barack Obama’s response to the scandal emerging over the nation’s VA healthcare system. Obama has promised to get to the bottom of the issues.

At a Wednesday morning press conference, the president outlined the steps his administration was taking to assess the situation. He said while he sympathized with the desire to have answers, he urged patience for those who were angry.

"But we have to let the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened," Obama said. "Our veterans deserve to know the facts, their families deserve to know the facts. Once we know the facts, I assure you, if there is misconduct it will be punished."

But McCain and Flake aren’t convinced. Flake said he’s happy the White House is taking the situation seriously. However, he’s hoping the move to send White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to Phoenix to begin a broader review of the VA health administration is not an effort to limit political fallout.

"It looks like we’re going to need a system-wide review and right now Mr. Nabors is just focused on the Phoenix VA. I believe it’s going to need to go far beyond that," Flake said. 

McCain is less optimistic about Nabors’ ability to conduct a thorough investigation.  

"Instead of sending people who are healthcare experts and veterans care experts to the Phoenix VA hospitals he sent one of his political operatives who has no background whatsoever in veterans’ health," McCain said. "Which indicates that he is probably more interested in damage control than really addressing the issue."

About 26 VA medical centers are under federal investigation.

Carrie Jung Senior Field Correspondent, Education Desk Carrie Jung began her public radio career in Albuquerque, N.M., where she fell in love with the diverse cultural scene and unique political environment of the Southwest. Jung has been heard on KJZZ since 2013 when she served as a regular contributor to the Fronteras Desk from KUNM Albuquerque. She covered several major stories there including New Mexico's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and Albuquerque's failed voter initiative to ban late-term abortions. Jung has also contributed stories about environmental and Native American issues to NPR's Morning Edition, PRI's The World, Al Jazeera America, WNYC's The Takeaway, and National Native News. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in marketing, both from Clemson University. When Jung isn't producing content for KJZZ she can usually be found buried beneath mounds of fabric and quilting supplies. She recently co-authored a book, "Sweet And Simple Sewing," with her mother and sister, who are fabric designers.