Politics

Harry Reid Steps Up To Bat Defending VA Secretary Over Disneyland Gaffe

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Jonah Bennett Contributor

Senate Minority Leader [crscore]Harry Reid[/crscore] came up to bat for embattled Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald Tuesday, saying “he’s a good man.”

Reid, who is somewhat of a lone voice in defending McDonald, admitted the VA secretary “could have done a better job talking about Disneyland.”

McDonald has come under tremendous fire for stating that because Disneyland doesn’t use wait times as a primary metric of success, the VA shouldn’t either, The Hill reports.

“When you got to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?” McDonald said Monday, according to The Washington Examiner. “And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.”

McDonald maintained that veteran satisfaction should be the main objective.

Not only have veterans and advocacy organizations bashed McDonald for his comments, but legislators have also called for his resignation. GOP Sen. [crscore]Roy Blunt[/crscore] called for McDonald to resign Tuesday after saying, “Secretary McDonald’s preposterous statement is right out of Never Never Land.”

While McDonald said in a statement he regrets if his remarks were interpreted in a negative light, he stopped short of actually apologizing. He also refused to tell MSNBC how many employees have been fired for wait time manipulation.

Part of the reason referencing wait times garnered so much backlash is because of a nationwide problem with scheduling manipulation. Employees have been caught “zeroing out” wait times by taking the requested appointment date and equating it with the first available appointment date, making it appear as though the veteran didn’t actually wait any time at all. Management has often gone unpunished for instructing employees to engage in this sort of practice.

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