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Lawmakers take VA to task over delays

WASHINGTON — The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees on Sunday decried long waits and backlogs at the nation’s VA hospitals but stopped short of calling for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

‘‘You’ve got an entrenched bureaucracy that exists out there that is not held accountable, that is shooting for goals, goals that are not helping the veterans,’’ said Representative Jeff Miller, Republican of Florida, chairman of the House panel.

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‘‘I think some people may be cooking the books’’ to suggest waiting times are shorter than they actually are, said Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who chairs the Senate committee.

Both men were interviewed on CNN’s ‘‘State of the Union.’’

Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said on CBS’s ‘‘Face the Nation’’ that the Justice Department ‘‘has to be involved.’’ He said there is ‘‘credible and specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing across the country’’ at VA hospitals.

Lawmakers from both parties have pressed for policy changes and better management as the Department of Veterans Affairs confronts allegations about treatment delays and falsified records at VA centers around the country. The program serves nearly 9 million veterans.

Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a pre-recorded interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s ‘‘This Week,’’ called the VA’s current problems outrageous.

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