Shin­seki faces sub­poena, tes­ti­mony be­fore Se­nate

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY MAG­GIE YBARRA AND KEL­LAN HOW­ELL

Veter­ans Af­fairs Sec­re­tary Eric K. Shin­seki will tes­tify next week be­fore a Se­nate com­mit­tee in the wake of al­le­ga­tions that dozens of veter­ans died while wait­ing to re­ceive med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

Sen. Bernie San­ders, Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent and chair­man of the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Veter­ans’ Af­fairs, said Thurs­day that the hear­ing will take place May 15 and fo­cus on the broader is­sues within the VA health care sys­tem.

The an­nounce­ment came hours af­ter the House Com­mit­tee on Veter­ans’ Af­fairs made a rare for­mal at­tempt to shake down the depart­ment for an­swers. Dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing, the com­mit­tee unan­i­mously voted to sub­poena Mr. Shin­seki and his top deputies for email and writ­ten cor­re­spon­dence go­ing back to April 9.

Ru­mors that a se­cret elec­tronic wait list, which pur­port­edly shows that in­for­ma­tion from dozens of veter­ans was en­tered into com­put­ers at a Phoenix VA fa­cil­ity but not saved, sur­faced af­ter a re­tired doc­tor told CNN that the clinic kept an of­fi­cial list and a sham list of its pa­tients.

Com­mit­tee mem­bers have been track­ing al­le­ga­tions that the list was in­ten­tion­ally de­stroyed.

Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Repub­li­can and the com­mit­tee’s chair­man, said he be­gan warn­ing the depart­ment of an im­pend­ing sub­poena af­ter con­cerns that of­fi­cials were dodg­ing con­gres­sional in­quiries.

“This is a his­toric vote,” Mr. Miller said Thurs­day, adding that the com­mit­tee has only is­sued sub­poe­nas against the VA one other time its his­tory. “I trust the VA will not fur­ther ig­nore the re­quest that this com­mit­tee has made.”

The Depart­ment of Veter­ans Af­fairs did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment on the ac­cu­sa­tions that of­fi­cials were stonewalling law­mak­ers. In­stead, the depart­ment re­leased a state­ment say­ing it planned to have the Veter­ans Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion con­duct a na­tion­wide ac­cess re­view.

The de­vel­op­ments came amid mount­ing calls for Mr. Shin­seki’s res­ig­na­tion, most no­tably from the Amer­i­can Le­gion. Mr. Shin­seki has also been asked to step down by Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Repub­li­can; Sen. Jerry Mo­ran, Kansas Repub­li­can; and Rep. Mike Coff­man, Colorado Repub­li­can.

But House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Repub­li­can, de­clined Thurs­day to echo the de­mand.

“I’m not ready to join the cho­rus of peo­ple call­ing on him to step down,” Mr. Boehner told re­porters.

The Veter­ans of For­eign Wars of the United States, which on Mon­day re­jected the res­ig­na­tion call and in­stead urged Mr. Shin­seki “to reestab­lish the cred­i­bil­ity of the en­tire VA health and benefits sys­tems,” de­clined to com­ment on the sub­poena un­til facts from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral were re­leased.

“Then there will be facts and re­me­dial rec­om­men­da­tions, whereas now there’s only al­le­ga­tions and con­jec­ture,” Veter­ans of For­eign Wars spokesman Joe Davis said.

White House press sec­re­tary Jay Car­ney ear­lier this week said Pres­i­dent Obama still has faith that Mr. Shin­seki can do his job.

“The pres­i­dent re­mains con­fi­dent in Sec­re­tary Shin­seki’s abil­ity to lead the depart­ment,” he said.

Mr. Shin­seki has de­fended his record and told CBS Thurs­day that he sent in­spec­tors to Phoenix im­me­di­ately af­ter he learned of re­ports about the deaths.

“I take ev­ery one of these in­ci­dents and al­le­ga­tions se­ri­ously, and we’re go­ing to go and in­ves­ti­gate,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.