Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

Posts in "Veterans Affairs"

June 9, 2014

GOP Congressman Helps Uncover Another VA Waiting List Scandal (Video)

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Huelskamp is pursuing the Veterans Affairs scandal. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Veterans Affairs scandal expands and unfolds across the country, lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands back home to draw more local attention to problems at VA medical facilities.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp wasn’t satisfied with the answers he was getting from a VA hospital in Wichita, Kan., so the Republican lawmaker planned an ambush, bringing along a local television crew. The result was an acknowledgment of long waiting lists and deeper concerns about veterans’ health care.

The recess move followed Capitol Hill complaints about the unraveling scandal at a VA hospital in Phoenix, as well as reports that nine veterans may have been placed on an unofficial waiting list for health care at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center in Huelskamp’s Kansas district.

Full story

June 4, 2014

House GOP Leaders Call for Obama to Be Active in Fixing VA System

boehnercantor090613 445x296 House GOP Leaders Call for Obama to Be Active in Fixing VA System

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The top four House Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter on Wednesday morning, making requests and seeking solutions in the aftermath of the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Speaker John A. Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers wrote that, less than a week after VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation, Obama must now make short- and long-term plans to address the systemic failures that led to the patient backlogs at veterans’ hospitals around the country.

In doing so, they formalized in writing many of the complaints they have already been making regarding the Obama administration’s handling of veterans’ issues and continued to put pressure on the president as the midterm elections approach. Full story

June 2, 2014

Lawmaker to Obama: ‘Get Off Duff,’ Help Free Marine in Mexican Jail

CPAC 08 031313 445x288 Lawmaker to Obama: Get Off Duff, Help Free Marine in Mexican Jail

Salmon says Obama should use his leverage to help free a veteran being held in a Mexican prison. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Matt Salmon challenged President Barack Obama to get more involved in efforts to free a Marine veteran being held in a Mexican prison on weapons charges.

“The president has boldly said that he has a pen and a phone,” the Arizona Republican said Monday in an appearance on Fox News. “He needs to pick up the gosh-darn phone and do something positive with it to get this young man out.

“Mr. President, get off your duff and do the right thing. … Put that phone to good use for once.”

Salmon, who met with Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi over the weekend at a prison in Tijuana, said the 25-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan veteran seems in good spirits. Full story

May 30, 2014

Boehner: Shinseki’s Resignation ‘Really Changes Nothing’ (Video)

Shinseki 105 0501514 445x299 Boehner: Shinsekis Resignation Really Changes Nothing (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Following the resignation Friday morning of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized President Barack Obama again for not doing more to solve problems surrounding the scheduling system and waiting lists at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.

“[Shinseki's] resignation, though, does not absolve the president of his responsibility to step in and make things right for our veterans,” Boehner said during a Friday afternoon news conference. “Business as usual cannot continue. And until the president outlines a vision and an effective plan for addressing the broad dysfunction at the VA, today’s announcement really changes nothing. One personnel change cannot be used as an excuse to paper over a systemic problem.”

Full story

May 29, 2014

Why House GOP Leaders Aren’t Calling for Shinseki’s Head (Video)

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(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican leaders are trying to turn a Shinseki problem into an Obama problem.

Calls for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation seemed to reach a fever pitch Thursday, as several more House and Senate Democrats deserted the administration and called for the agency head’s ouster following the release of a scathing watchdog report.

Yet Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia remained restrained, careful to avoid any appearance of seeking a Cabinet secretary’s head as political trophy. Instead, the two Republican leaders chose to keep their public comments trained squarely on President Barack Obama.

Boehner has been hesitant to call for Shinseki to resign, although he did say last week he was getting closer. On Thursday, he came out swinging at Obama instead.

“The question I ask myself is, ‘Is [Shinseki] resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem? Is it going to help us find out what’s really going on?’ And the answer I keep getting is, ‘no,’” Boehner told reporters Thursday. “The president is the one who should be held accountable.”

The leaders, according to aides, have made the calculation that feeding any public perception that Shinseki is to blame is ill-advised and shortsighted. Rather, putting the onus on Obama will have a more potent political and substantive effect in keeping the VA scandal at the fore.

Full story

Steve Israel Becomes First House Democratic Leader to Call for Shinseki’s Resignation

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DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York wants VA Secretary Shinseki’s resignation. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Israel of New York is the first member of House Democratic leadership to call for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made his sentiments public during a CNN interview Thursday afternoon.

Shortly thereafter, Israel released an email statement to CQ Roll Call explaining his rationale.

“If it will help fix the problem to clean house, then yes, he should resign,” Israel said, “but my main concern is getting the root of the problem here, and I want to make sure any steps taken actually lead to drastic improvements for our veterans.” Full story

May 23, 2014

Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Proposes Private Option for Veterans Stuck on VA Wait Lists

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller wants veterans stuck on VA waiting lists to get health care for more than 30 days to have the option of getting private health care.

In a letter to Eric Shinseki, the Florida Republican urged the Veterans Affairs secretary to offer private care to any veteran waiting more than 30 days, and plans to offer legislation codifying the practice.

“Mr. Secretary, the accusations currently facing the Department — which increase in volume and gravity by the hour — have understandably led to a crisis of confidence on the part of many of our veterans who no longer feel that VA is willing and able to provide them with the timely care they have earned and deserved,” Miller wrote in a one-page letter to Shinseki on Thursday.

The Florida Republican said while he hopes Shinseki acts accordingly, “I cannot be satisfied with a short-term fix.” Full story

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