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Lesson for Congress: Don’t Mess With VA’s Bob McDonald

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VA Secretary Bob McDonald. VA Secretary Bob McDonald. Veterans Affairs Department file photo

Note to lawmakers: Don’t try grandstanding on issues of accountability with Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald. He’ll dish it right back.

At a hearing on VA’s budget this week, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., accused McDonald of “glossing over” problems at the department—specifically problems at a Denver VA hospital “hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”

“I firmly believe that at the end of the day, at the end of this presidential term, that you will not have made a difference in changing the culture of this organization by virtue of the fact that you continue to gloss over its problems,” Coffman said.

But the normally genial McDonald wasn’t having it.

“I’m offended by your comments,” McDonald said. “I’ve been here six months. You’ve been here longer than I have. If there’s a problem in Denver I think you own it more than I do.”

And McDonald was just getting started. Watch the full clip here:

Update: Coffman struck back in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon. Future hearings should be very interesting.  

Katherine is deputy editor of Government Executive Media Group, a division of Atlantic Media, where she oversees editorial coverage for GovExec.com and Government Executive magazine. She previously was executive editor of Nextgov.

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