WASHINGTON – New Mexico’s congressional delegation is demanding answers from the Veterans Affairs Department after Albuquerque VA officials told congressional staffers this week that they must submit federal Freedom of Information Act requests to learn more about VA health care policies.
All five delegation members – Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, Democratic Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Luján, and Republican Rep. Steve Pearce – signed a letter to Sloan D. Gibson, the acting VA secretary, on Thursday.
The letter said the Albuquerque VA’s insistence that members of Congress file official requests for information showed “an alarming ignorance or an utter disregard” for congressional oversight.
The letter stems from a conference call on Monday with staffers for the New Mexico congressional delegation and top staff at the Albuquerque VA, including interim Director Dr. James Robbins.
Ongoing issues at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center in Albuquerque, punctuated by the June 30 death of Jim Napoleon Garcia, a Vietnam War veteran who collapsed in the hospital’s cafeteria, prompted the call.