The House Committee on Veterans Affairs voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs after reports called the department’s hospital administration practices into question.
The House vote comes amid mounting pressure on Shinseki to retire after reports surfaced that 40 veterans died while waiting to see doctors in Arizona, and that the VA had a secret list of 200 veterans who waited more than 200 days for treatment. The American Legion and the Concerned Veterans of America, two of the nation’s largest veterans groups, as well as Republican Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Jerry Moran of Kansas have called for Shinseki to resign in the wake of those reports. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stopped short of calling for Shinseki’s resignation, but did say that “a change of leadership might be a step in the right direction.”
The Shinseki scandal is one of the few brewing in Washington that might actually claim a head or two. Unlike Republicans’ calls for Secretary of State John Kerry to resign over a controversial statement about Israel and Attorney General Eric Holder to leave for his role in the Fast and Furious arms tracking scandal, there’s a decent shot Shinseki could be forced to step down over the VA mess. And while the GOP focuses its firepower on investigations over partisan issues like Benghazi, political targeting at the IRS and the Keystone Pipeline, there are many Democrats who have expressed serious concerns about Shinseki’s leadership at the VA. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, for example has openly pondered Shinseki’s exit, and my colleague Joe Klein has been calling on Shinseki to go for more than a year.
Shinseki, though, isn’t heading for the exists any time soon. He told the Wall Street Journal this week that he would respond to an ongoing independent investigation when it issues its final report. “I’m very sensitive to the allegations,” he told the Journal. However, he may have to come up with answers sooner than that if he gets dragged before angry congressional committees.