Boehner Says He Has No Confidence in Veterans Affairs Investigation

The House speaker says he’s “getting a little closer” to calling for VA chief’s resignation.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) listens to questions from the media after attending the weekly House Republican conference at the U.S. Capitol March 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. Speaker Boehner spoke on various issues including jobs and the unemployment rate.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
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Sarah Mimms
May 22, 2014, 8:09 a.m.

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House Speak­er John Boehner is “not con­fid­ent” in the in­spect­or gen­er­al’s abil­ity to prop­erly in­vest­ig­ate the scan­dal at the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment, and he says he is “get­ting a little closer” to call­ing on de­part­ment chief Eric Shin­seki to step down.

“The re­ports that con­tin­ue to come [of fail­ures at the VA] are ap­palling,” Boehner said Thursday. “And these are men and wo­men who served our coun­try, and we’ve not just let them down, we’ve let them die.”

But, he ad­ded, Shin­seki, who is a four-star gen­er­al, is just the sym­bol of a much lar­ger prob­lem. Boehner said that Amer­ic­ans should not get dis­trac­ted by the con­cerns about the head of the agency, but in­stead fo­cus on the lar­ger prob­lem: The VA has had ser­i­ous prob­lems for dec­ades.

“This isn’t about the sec­ret­ary. It’s about the en­tire sys­tem un­der­neath him,” the speak­er said. “And you know, the gen­er­al can leave, and we can wait around for months to go through a nom­in­a­tion pro­cess, and we get a new per­son.”

Boehner said he sup­ports the House Vet­er­ans Af­fairs’ Com­mit­tee’s ef­forts to con­duct its own in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the mat­ter, ar­guing that the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment’s in­spect­or gen­er­al has not “shown the in­terest or ca­pa­city to get to the bot­tom of what is a sys­tem­ic fail­ure of an en­tire agency.” The in­vest­ig­a­tion, launched at the ur­ging of Con­gress when the scan­dal broke earli­er this month, now af­fects at least 26 VA fa­cil­it­ies across the coun­try.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., who chairs that com­mit­tee, has com­plained that the de­part­ment has been slow to re­spond to a con­gres­sion­al sub­poena for doc­u­ments re­lated to the scan­dal, ac­cus­ing it of “stone­walling” law­makers.

Boehner said Thursday that Miller is work­ing to sub­poena “top man­agers” at the Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment to testi­fy be­fore the com­mit­tee next week.

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