John Boehner: No Decision on VA Chief Shinseki

“Is him resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem?” the speaker asked, as many of his members called for Shinseki’s resignation.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03: U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at an event on Veterans Affairs at the U.S. Capitol April 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. Boehner and other Republican leaders, discussed the recent shooting at Fort Hood and urged legislation that would bring more accountability to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms Matt Berman
May 29, 2014, 6:25 a.m.

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Speak­er John Boehner is not yet join­ing the grow­ing chor­us call­ing for Vet­er­an Af­fairs Sec­ret­ary Eric Shin­seki’s resig­na­tion. “I’m go­ing to con­tin­ue to re­serve judg­ment on Gen. Shin­seki,” the speak­er said at a Thursday morn­ing press con­fer­ence. “Is him resign­ing go­ing to get us to the bot­tom of the prob­lem? Is it go­ing to help us find out what’s really go­ing on?” the speak­er asked. “The an­swer I keep get­ting is no.”

Boehner on Thursday shif­ted the blame to Pres­id­ent Obama who, he said, ig­nored earli­er re­ports from the Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice about is­sues at Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.

Boehner has been re­l­at­ively cau­tious about Shin­seki’s job se­cur­ity, even as many of his col­leagues — in­clud­ing his own ma­jor­ity whip — have called on the sec­ret­ary to step down. Last week, Boehner said he was mov­ing “closer” to call­ing for Shin­seki’s resig­na­tion, and after the in­spect­or gen­er­al’s pre­lim­in­ary re­port was re­leased yes­ter­day, the speak­er’s of­fice said his po­s­i­tion was un­changed.

But a huge wave of state­ments from mem­bers of both parties call­ing for a change of lead­er­ship at the VA have helped cre­ate a sense of mo­mentum. On Wed­nes­day, after the ini­tial IG re­port found that vet­er­ans waited on av­er­age 115 days for care in the Phoenix health care sys­tem (as op­posed to the re­com­men­ded 14 days), Sen. John Mc­Cain and Demo­crat­ic Sens. Mark Ud­all and John Walsh, among many oth­ers, said Shin­seki should step down. More than a dozen Demo­crats in both cham­bers have now called for Shin­seki’s resig­na­tion. Mitt Rom­ney, in an ap­pear­ance on Fox News on Wed­nes­day night, joined those calls.

For his part, Sec­ret­ary Eric Shin­seki wrote an op-ed on Thursday morn­ing in USA Today call­ing the IG’s find­ings “rep­re­hens­ible to me and to this de­part­ment,” and say­ing he is “com­mit­ted to provid­ing the high-qual­ity care and be­ne­fits that vet­er­ans have earned and de­served.”

White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney said Wed­nes­day that Obama was pleased with Shin­seki’s an­nounce­ment that he would abide by the IG’s re­com­mend­a­tions. But a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial ad­ded that a de­cision on Shin­seki’s con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment in the ad­min­is­tra­tion was pending on the fi­nal res­ults of the IG’s in­vest­ig­a­tion.

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