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OTR Interviews

Time for 'out of touch' VA secretary to resign?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 24, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, I'm furious about this story. We first told you about the Secretary of Veterans Affairs comparing V.A. lines to lines at Disney World. And now he is refusing to apologize. Listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MCDONALD, SECRETARY, VETERANS AFFAIRS: Do they measure the number of hours you wait in line or, you know, what's important? What's important is what's your satisfaction with the experience?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know about you, but I think that comparison is despicable and I am not alone. Really? Disneyland?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We were dumbfounded. This is not make believe. This is not Disneyland or Wonderland for that matter. Veterans have died waiting in line for their care. Clearly, the secretary's comments were not worthy of the veterans that he serves.

These kinds of disgusting comments that show you do not have the proper empathy that needs to be addressed. And I don't know how he is going to fix it, but he needs to fix it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me, the first female combat pilot, Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally and Air Force pilot and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

Good evening to both of you.

Let me start first with you, Congresswoman. Should he resign?

REP. MARTHA MCSALLY, FIRST FEMALE COMBAT PILOT: No. I don't think so. Look, it's extremely insensitive. He should know better having been a veteran himself. And in a position that he's in, that caring for those who served, those who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice when we now have seen and uncovered that many veterans died while waiting in line for care.

And he's at the helm of this organization trying to turn it around? Comparing it to Disneyland is really outrageous. And he should have right away realized his mistake. He should have apologized right away. It's taken way too long. And we need to get back to caring for our veterans.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he still hasn't apologized.

Congressman Kinzinger, the same question to you. Is he the right guy for the job?

REP. ADAM KINZINGER, ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN: I don't know. You know, it's interesting. Because he was brought in under a resignation of the prior secretary for the same issue, the wait lines. And that's been a big problem.

I don't know if the comment rises to the level of resignation, but I think it's indicative of a bigger problem, which is, you know, we have great caregivers at the V.A. The front lines -- the nurses, the doctors and everything else.

It's this cold, heartless bureaucracy that sits on top of it where your paperwork is ping-ponged back and forth, where you have to go through the wickets just to get the frontline care. And then where you have administrators that, with all due respect, doesn't necessarily see every day the human element and can slip a line in there like it's the equivalent of Disneyland.

It was a heartless comment. And he should at least apologize for it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You say it's heartless. You both are much more charitable to him than I am. And just the idea to me that some member of the military, who volunteered, and went over there to do something for me, which I didn't do, would have to sit in line and wait while in pain from a traumatic brain injury or PTSD or anything, and to have that the head dude say, oh, well, it's like waiting in line, while you are waiting for your cancer test results, that was like Disneyland.

MCSALLY: It shows he's completely misprioritizing or understanding what's really still going out there.

I mean, we have people in rural areas that still, even with the veteran's choice card can't get access to specialty care because they live outside 40 miles from that specialty care.

We still have individuals that are calling the suicide hotline. This came out in January and are going to voice mail. We've got very serious issues that our veterans are facing. And how long you have to wait for your cancer treatment, for your diagnosis, for the care that you need for your disease or injury is significant, it is a part of caring for them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that happens to be his job to be in charge. If he were in the military, if this were a military job, would he be dismissed from his position?

KINZINGER: Yes, I think he probably would be removed. And I think the bigger point on it is this, again, you have this deep bureaucracy. And it takes -- if you look at a private hospital and you see another innovating ways, maybe it's through an app on your phone that you can get a doctor's appointment. There's new technology that works.

They have a profit incentive behind it, which is why they do that. That incentive obviously doesn't exist in the V.A. And a lot of the times, you have people more interested in keeping their jobs or getting a bonus at the end of the year.

VAN SUSTEREN: But that's almost different. I mean, the question -- of course, it's bureaucracy and it's not an easy fix. I don't get that. But at least the guy at the top ought to realize what the guy at the bottom, who actually volunteers is going through.

You know, I realize it's not an easy fix. I don't expect magic, but I do expect him at least to be sensitive to what goes on.

MCSALLY: Absolutely. I agree. And, again, that's why he needs to apologize right away.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: It's too late. He has had 24 hours.

Too late. Too late.

(CROSSTALK)

MCSALLY: He's putting this back for a long time.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't know. I mean, I don't know what he is waiting for.

KINZINGER: Hey, there's no time like the present. Come out tonight and say, I'm deeply sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Andrea Mitchell even asked him today on MSNBC, and he didn't. So, anyway.

KINZINGER: Too much pride.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you both for serving. Thank you both for being here. Thank you.

KINZINGER: You bet. Thanks.