President Obama, Eric Shinseki to meet on VA
By: Jonathan Topaz
May 21, 2014 06:42 AM EDT
President Barack Obama will meet with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors on Wednesday at 10 a.m., according to the White House.
A White House news release said the president will meet with the two officials in the Oval Office to “receive an update on the situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Last week, Obama directed Nabors to begin a review of VA health care procedures in the wake of a departmental scandal. The Obama administration and Shinseki in particular have come under fire from veterans groups and members of both parties for reports that at least 40 veterans died while waiting for care in the Phoenix system.
Nabors is scheduled to arrive in Arizona on Wednesday evening to meet with leaders of the Phoenix system on Thursday, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney. In response to the growing outrage in Congress, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough will meet with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. His meeting comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers prepares legislation to make it easier to fire VA officials.
Several lawmakers, as well as the American Legion, a top veterans advocacy group, have called for Shinseki to resign. The secretary testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee last week, saying that he is “mad as hell” over the scandal but insisted that the Phoenix reports were not indicative of a systemic problem.
The day after the hearing, VA Undersecretary of Health Robert Petzel, who testified before the committee with the secretary, announced he was stepping down. The health official was already scheduled to retire later this year, leading House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) to call the move “the pinnacle of disingenuous political doublespeak.”