Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made a quiet trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon amid the growing scandal engulfing veterans affairs hospitals across the country.
Shinseki and Hagel were on the Hill for a meeting with House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowey, according to a committee spokeswoman, that was scheduled some time ago and was not related to the VA scandal. The meeting, she said, was about the veterans affairs and defense departments’ ongoing collaboration involving electronic medical records. Both departments have yet to create the digital system prescribed by Congress in 2008, which continues to create headaches on the Hill.
Representatives of the House Armed Services and House Veterans’ Affairs committees that they were unaware of Shinseki’s visit. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, who had said he wanted to look into scandal but has so far refrained from calling for Shinseki’s resignation, said it was the first he had heard of the veterans affairs secretary’s trip to the Hill.
The visit comes as a handful of congressional Republicans have called for Shinseki’s immediate resignation. The majority of members, including leadership, however, are withholding their judgment on the secretary’s employment until more information arises.
Shinseki has said he is “mad as hell” about long wait times and secret appointment lists at veterans’ hospitals. The Veterans Affairs Department’s inspector general is conducting an investigation into allegations of mismanagement at hospitals.
CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story referred to the secretaries’ trip to the Hill as a “surprise visit.” While the visit was in fact a surprise to members of the House Armed Services and House Veterans’ Affairs committees, it had been previously planned with leaders of the House Appropriations Committee.
What We're Following See More »
A group advising Donald Trump on Native American issues is encouraging him to privatize Indian reservations, taking the land out of the hands of the "suffocating federal bureaucracy." Currently, tribes have rights to the land but don't own it, meaning they can drill, but only under strenuous government restriction. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma and a member of the Cherokee tribe thinks the plan would be supported by Native American tribes nationally.
As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."
"Supporters of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein on Saturday withdrew a last-ditch lawsuit in Pennsylvania state court aimed at forcing a statewide ballot recount, another major setback in the effort to verify the votes in three states that provided President-elect Donald Trump his margin of victory. Ms. Stein’s campaign announced in a statement Saturday that the Pennsylvania lawsuit had been dropped after the court demanded that a $1 million bond be posted by the 100 Pennsylvania residents who brought the suit."
In a series of early-morning tweets on Sunday, Donald Trump threatened companies that attempt to relocate out of the country. "Any business that leaves our country for another country, fires its employees, builds a new factory or plant in the other country, and then thinks it will sell its product back into the U.S. without retribution or consequence, is WRONG!," he wrote. "There will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35% for these companies."