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Posted at 2:25 p.m. on May 22, 2014
As more members piled on Thursday calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida continued to hold back, although Boehner noted he is beginning to lose patience.
“Listen, I have not called for General Shinseki to resign, although I have to admit I’m getting a little closer,” he told reporters. When asked why, he continued, “We’ve not just let them down, we’ve let them die. It’s awful stuff and somebody ought to be held accountable for it.”
“But here’s the thing: This isn’t about one person,” he said. “The General can leave and we can wait around for months to go through a nomination process, and we get a new person, but the disaster continues. So I don’t want people to get confused about what the shiny ball is. The shiny ball is a systemic failure of this agency.”
Miller, too, said he is frustrated by the ongoing scandal, particularly by what he described as reluctance from the administration to turn over subpoenaed documents. On Thursday, the committee voted to subpoena three top VA officials to ask why those emails and documents the committee has asked for have not yet been produced.
Still, he said he is withholding from calling for Shinseki’s ouster until an inspector general report is released, he said.
“Maybe during that time the Secretary will rethink his current position,” Miller said. “But right now I don’t believe that asking for his resignation is going to solve anything. This is systemic through the agency and it’s going to have to be a top-down, bottom-up review.”
President Barack Obama has decided not to fire Shinseki for now, but left the impression that could change depending on reports he has demanded on the extent of the problems at the VA.