Eleanor Widmer 8:30 a.m., March 23
Filner Launches Verbal Assault Over Backlog of Pending Disability Claims
Putting his mayoral campaign on hold, Congressman Bob Filner is back in Washington and according to the New York Times blog, is making his presence known.
The blog post recants a House Veterans Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday where Filner tore into representatives from Veterans Affairs over the stack, said to be over 900,000 claims tall, of pending disability claims for veterans.
The issue of pending claims is not new, and some committee members treated it as business-as-usual. However, when it came to Filner's turn, he ripped into the V.A. for the growing number of disability claims, despite having hired, by his count, more than 10,000 new employees.
"The definition of insanity is to try the same thing over and over again and expect different results," said Filner.
The New York Times writer then mentioned Filner's hopes to become San Diego's next mayor.
*"The congressman, who is running for mayor of San Diego, as veteran-friendly a town as exists in America, was just getting started. After a panel of experts from four major veteran service organizations, including the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, testified about V.B.A.'s problems, Mr. Filner tore into them, too. Heads turned.
Accusing the groups of "playing" the V.A.'s games by allowing themselves to be easily wooed into submission by promises of access to senior officials, Mr. Filner urged the groups to support "radical" change and "blow up" or "break" what he called "this stupid system."*
According the the Times piece, Filner took turns hammering representatives from four veterans service groups, even turning his fury on a fellow Democrat serving on the committee.
Reads the article:
*At one point, a Democrats on the committee, Representative Tim Walz of Minnesota, tried to rescue Ms. Hickey, praising her Air Force career, which included graduating with the first coed class at the Air Force Academy and becoming a pilot. But this, too, earned the scorn of Mr. Filner.
"I don't need a lecture about disrespecting her service," he said to Mr. Walz. "If she can't do this job, I don't care what she's done in the past."*
After the exchange was over, Filner offered a policy change which would urge the Veterans Benefits Administration to start accepting more claims instead of holding them up for investigations and interviews.