Eric Shinseki may refuse to provide a resignation in the expanding scandal of wait-list fraud at the VA, but he’ll have to provide testimony to Congress about it. The House Veterans Affairs committee approved a subpoena for the VA Secretary — on a unanimous voice vote:
The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in the wake of accusations that his department had deadly delays in health care at some of its hospitals.
The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.
The panel agreed to issue the subpoena in a voice vote Thursday morning.
CNN provided a little analysis about the decision, but stuck mainly to just the allegations involving the Phoenix office, where 40 veterans died while waiting for medical services:
This analysis is already out of date. The number of offices where whistleblowers claim that records were falsified to hide atrociously long wait times has risen to four, and their geographic distribution strongly suggests that the pattern has its origins in Washington. The Inspector General’s office continues to probe this — and has since last fall, as Drew Griffin points out in his CNN report.
Perhaps Bernie Sanders should have kept up with events a little more closely. The chair of the Senate VA committee scolded people who demanded answers from Shinseki, who has run the VA for more than five years, saying that “just because CNN says something, doesn’t always make it the case”:
“What we need is a very serious independent investigation,” Sanders insists, but isn’t that his job as the chair of the VA’s oversight committee? It’s difficult to take Sanders’ promise to look into the VA issue at some point in the future when plenty of reason already exists to do something about the wait times and allegations of records fraud now.
Shinseki may end up rethinking his stance on resignations. Unlike the Benghazi probe, this one’s likely to get a lot of bipartisan support, as today’s action on the House subpoena suggests.
Update: Shinseki has just ordered in-person audits at every VA facility:
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has ordered a “face-to-face audit” at all Department of Veterans Affairs clinics, a spokeswoman told CNN on Thursday.
To quote Wilfred Brimley in Absence of Malice: “Wonderful thing, subpoenaes.” Why did it take this long if the IG started probing this issue last fall?