WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI says it has opened a criminal investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The move comes as Congress takes steps to help thousands of military veterans who've been dealing with long wait times for VA medical care.
FBI Director James Comey says the probe is being led by the FBI's field office in Phoenix. An inspector general's report last month confirmed allegation of excessive waiting times and inappropriate scheduling practices at a VA hospital there.
A U.S. law enforcement official says the Justice Department formally asked the FBI to help review materials provided by the inspector general's office.
The Senate is poised to vote on a measure that would allow veterans to get treatment from local doctors, paid for by the VA, if they've encountered delays getting initial visits to VA facilities.
The measure closely resembles a bill approved with no opposition yesterday in the House.
A U.S. law enforcement official says the Justice Department has formally asked the FBI to review materials provided by the Veteran Affairs inspector general.
The VA watchdog last month issued a scathing report that confirmed allegations of excessive waiting time at VA hospitals and inappropriate scheduling practices. Troubles at the department forced the resignation last month of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
FBI Director James Comey had previously said that the FBI had not been asked to participate in any investigation, but the law enforcement official said the situation has now changed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation on the record.