Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Boehner Meets With White House Chief of Staff on VA Backlog

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met Monday afternoon to discuss the huge backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability claims, according to the speaker’s office.

“Mr. McDonough asked to meet with the speaker after he urged the president to address the unacceptable backlog at the Veterans Administration,” a spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, told CQ Roll Call.

The weekly report on the VA backlog said on Monday that, as of April 26, the number of disability claims that have gone unanswered for more than 125 days — the benchmark for the backlog — is 319,363, with 596,061 veterans in total waiting for the VA.

Boehner penned an op-ed at the end of March titled “Fix the VA Backlog Once and For All.”

McDonough has rarely met with the Ohio Republican beyond an initial meeting with Boehner when he became the White House chief of staff in February 2013.

McDonough emerged from the speaker’s office around 5:30 p.m. Monday after about a half-hour visit and said it was “always good to see the speaker.”

When CQ Roll Call asked McDonough what topics he and Boehner had discussed, specifically mentioning the VA backlog and immigration, McDonough declined to substantively answer.

“I don’t have anything more to say,” he said repeatedly.

Boehner has reignited speculation whether the House would address immigration this year after he mocked his Republican colleagues for their unwillingness to take up the immigration issue.

  • Aces High

    FIRST THINGS FIRST BOEHNER!!! Boehner needs to realize that he wont get anything until he lets the house vote on the unemployment bill that both parties have voted on to get to the house…a taste of his own medicine he continues to dish out…MANY VETERANS NEED THE E.U.C BILL PASSED BUT HE KEEPS DODGING THAT ISSUE LIKE ITS THE PLAGUE.

  • Rosey Glass

    Why is it that our laws allow companies to hire human beings, make money from their contributions, then get rid of them — forcing other people to take on the excess work and work overtime without pay, with long hours away from family and incurring stressful illness — worse, never trimming raises, bonuses or incentives of their workers? Labor laws, if not unemployment, should be for The People, and 24/7 laws re-considered. Business should be about getting Our population to work, all of the population! The ripple effect is the easiest concept to understand yet greed gets in the way. I am stunned Unemployment benefits are being treated like a perk! Unemployment it is the only program in our business enterprise system that encourages (not forces) companies to keep on employees.

  • American

    Boehner won’t get anything done. McDonough won’t get anything done. These two are just playing politics! Neither one of these guys cares about our disabled American veterans! This is 2014, and the average American taxpayer is knowledgable and well informed about what goes on in Washington. We all know what a complete waste these elected officials are. They are there for the fame and fortune, not for the American citizrns. Just about every day, another politican announces he or she is introducing new legislation to get rid of the backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Yet, nothing ever changes or gets done. VA Secretary Shinseki and his band of dishonest thieves continue to steal from our Wounded Warriors billions of taxpayer dollars. While these heartless VA employees and elected officials live in their million dollar mansions enjoying lavish lifestyles, our injured, sick and wounded American veteran soldiers are suffering and dying begging the VA for helo!

  • American

    The VA office in Boehner’s home state of Ohio has one of the greatest number of backlogged claims and appeals in the entire nation! Hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans in Ohio are waiting on the medical care and compensation they so rightfully deserve, and desperately need. Boehner doesn’t care about his own neighbors in Ohio. Why should he care about any American veteran?

  • Jim S.

    The Country Served that ‘Talks the Talk’, way too much and with symbols, especially the so called conservatives and that includes the veterans within those ranks, but very rarely ‘Walks the Walk’ especially through their representatives, federal and states!!

    “Mar 17th, 2014 – The Department of Veterans Affairs wants an extra $10 billion in its overall budget for fiscal 2015. That would supply the agency with more than $160 billion.”

    TX-19 Congressional Candidate Neal Marchbanks – Veteran: 28 March 2014 – “Congress controls the budget for the VA and it is the fault of Congress that the VA does not have enough employees and that the facilities are too small.”
    Congress, in Veteran Marchbanks statement, are the people served and who representatives work for, or are supposed to!

    Why do Conservatives and much of the Country Attack the VA and it’s dedicated civil servant personal as well as the many needed volunteers!!

    Freedom Isn’t Free, We Paid For It, American Veterans!!
    Reality as to those of us who’ve served:

    They, conservatives, don’t seek a smaller government, that’s never been their goal. They seek a privatized for corporate profit government, with no accountability, regulations, built into what would be corporate run agencies contracted by them, no bid or for campaign contributions, and paid with the peoples treasury. and much more expensive to run and maintain, And we’ve been seeing just what those private contracts have been giving back, think the NSA and the military contractors and the costs for, off the government treasury, they Never mention the private sector, with their huge amounts of corporate cash especially in the executive suites, in the hearings or public displays, that handles similar issues, like hospitals and clinics as they attack VA personal when issues arise. Nor do they try to help the, under funded and especially with our wars, VA in overcoming, the VA does that on their own mostly, and in these past some five years with the help of the Executive branch and it’s Cabinet, and with what is allotted to them through the representatives of the people served!!

    “”26 March 2014 – In U.S., hospital-acquired infections run rampant””
    “”16 April 2014 – Children’s Hospital investigated five patient deaths from deadly fungal disease in 2009″”
    “”Patient slapping at St. Joe’s symptom of persistent problem at U.S. hospitals: bad behavior by docs””

    “12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility to a generation of service members, veterans and their families.” Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: ‘With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility’ {two tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, came with these two recent unpaid for wars, nor the results of, DeJa-Vu all over again from the previous decades and wars from! Ignore the many issues, by those served, no need to fund!}

    Sen. Bernie Sanders told Republicans: “If you can’t afford to take care of your veterans, than don’t go war. These people are bearing the brunt of what war is about, We have a moral obligation to support them.” February, 26th, 2014

    “If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth our treasure, too” “not just in the abstract, but in the form of a specific ante by every American.” -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

    Where were the ‘offsets’ to federal spending as the rubber stamping, more then the off the books wars with no-bid contracts, was going on and claiming ‘patriotism’ for?

    USN All Shore ’67-’71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country ’70-’71 – Independent

  • Althea Blair

    More rhetoric, no real action. We must voice our disapproval at the polls. There are a substantial amount of veterans who should vote these uncaring politicians out. Then maybe we can get our claims and appeals settled, finally.

  • ed moore

    It has been 420 days plus for me ,and I’m in Ohio Called Boehner’s office and I was not in his district so they did not want to talk to me. Sen Brown office is helping me . sad I drank the water At camp lejeune back in 1976 and even dumped toxic waste there and still don’t want to talk to me .

    • Edward Brown

      I was at 420 in about june of 2011, I am at 1470 today. Good luck from a Service Connected Texas Vet.


    I hope Speaker Boehner is doing the walk now and not just the talk. Most of his previous actions are all just for publicity. This time I hope he is serious for I am so desperately disappointed with all our elected officials who are just doing a lot of talking. I tried writing to all of them pointing all the basic problems in the processing of all veterans claims and nobody is even listening. The VA is requesting another 10 billion for their budget and yet they can not even provide me with a power wheelchair in spite of my service connected disabilities of losing the function on both leg and in both hips. On top of this I have severe peripheral neuropathy because diabetes Type 11. My claim is now pending with the Veterans Board of Appeal for almost 5 years because of severe errors in the adjudication of my case. I am hoping Speaker Boehner will be true to his word for I am 72 years old with multiple illnesses and I am praying that my claim can be resolve before my ultimate demise.

  • Raj Err
  • Edward Brown

    I am a service connected disabled vet. I filed a claim for an increase in April, 2009 and was denied. I have an appeal in with the VA since April 22, 2010, that is the date my Form 9 was processed. It has now been about 1470 days the best I can figure. There has been now progress to my knowledge in my appeal. I have written my state senators, congressmen, governor, and the president. I found out from Sen. Cornyn “The VA has a backlog.” Wow! Really? I use the Texas Veterans Commission as my representative they know how to work with the VA so veterans can receive timely results from the VA. When I call the VA they always have to call me back, but always tell me there are no new developments in my case. Then they go on to say they are working the oldest cases first and I just have to wait. How many cases could be much older than mine? “I AM STILL WAITING.”

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