Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Department of Justice doesn't have any plans to investigate allegations that veterans placed on secret waiting lists at VA hospitals died while waiting for care.
"Well, obviously these reports if they're true are unacceptable, and the allegations are being taken very seriously by the administration. But I don't have any announcements at this time with regard to anything that the Justice Department is doing," Holder told reporters at a press conference.
"This is something on our radar screen at this point, but there is an investigation being done by the [VA] inspector general, and we'll see what happens as a result of that inquiry and other information that comes to light in some form or fashion," Holder added.
According to CNN, at least 40 veterans died while waiting for treatment at one VA hospital in Phoenix. Members of Congress have said in recent weeks that the inspector general investigation is inadequate and have called on the DOJ to launch its own investigation.
"Because these cases involve individuals working in their capacity as federal employees, and these incidents have occurred at federal facilities throughout the nation, I urge you to work with the state Attorneys General in Arizona and across the country to investigate these preventable deaths thoroughly, determine appropriate criminal charges, and prosecute the offenders accordingly," Rep. Tom Rooney, a Republican of Florida, wrote in a letter to Holder on May 1.
Holder's announcement that the DOJ doesn't currently have any plans to investigate the VA hospital scandal was made Tuesday afternoon at a press conference held to announce that the DOJ was filing a lawsuit against lenders under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which caps interest rates on student loans at 6 percent for members of the military.
"We are here to announce a landmark step forward in our effort to achieve justice for victims of improper lending practices--and to protect the men and women of America's armed services from anyone who would take advantage of those who wear the uniform," Holder said.