May 25th, 2014
11:04 AM ET
9 years ago

Miller: VA issues 'much larger' than Shinseki

(CNN) - Congressional chairmen of the House and Senate veterans affairs committees are still backing embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, for now, amid a growing chorus of lawmakers calling for his resignation over the scandal that's rocked the agency.

Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Florida and chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday that the issues with the VA are "much larger than the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs."

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"You've got an entrenched bureaucracy that exists out there that is not held accountable, that is shooting for goals, goals that are not helping the veterans."

With reports of excessive, long waits for medical care for veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, a handful of lawmakers are calling for Shinseki’s resignation over the agency's apparent mismanagement.

Last week, the VA's Office of Inspector General said it was investigating 26 agency facilities over allegations of doctored waiting times, and Miller said his group has received information "that will make what has already come out look like kindergarten stuff."

Lawmaker: VA wait-list, cover-up allegations 'tip of the iceberg'

Still, the Florida Republican said, until his committee receives a final report about what Shinseki knew of the ongoing issues in the agency and when, it would be premature to ask him to step down.

Miller's counterpart in the Senate, Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said Shinseki undoubtedly could have done more to fix the problems, but he also praised aspects of the VA chief's tenure.

Issues have dogged the agency for decades, and Sanders said the current problems at the VA go beyond accountability.

"The other area that we have to talk about is that 2 million new veterans coming in in the last few years," he said. "Do we have the staff in all areas of this country to accommodate the needs of those veterans? Frankly, between you and me, I'm not sure that we do."

So if Shinseki isn't totally to blame for the VA's failings, where's the oversight?

"We have 118 outstanding requests right now at the Department of Veterans Affairs in regards to oversight that they will not answer," Miller said, adding that his committee has issued subpoenas for people involved to appear before his committee next week.

The scandal has not only rocked the VA but it's also placed the spotlight of scrutiny on the Obama administration.

In his weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama called caring for the nation's veterans a "sacred obligation." And asked last week if Shinseki should step aside, Obama said he needed more information but promised accountability if assertions prove true.

Shinseki says he has no plans to step down, citing an ongoing internal review and an independent probe by the VA Inspector General's Office.

Related: Dem 2014 candidates want VA chief out

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Issues with the VA are "much larger than the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Was GW Bush ever thinking of the cost for quality health care for returning Vets after Iraq and Afghanistan ?

    Has any prior president other then Jimmy Carter or Dwight D. Eisenhower keep his word to American Veterans ?

    This is what happens when you fight expensive wars with no new tax revenue to pay for quality care .

    Bush:"Iraq war will pay for itself"

    Wolfowitz Spins His Iraq Can Pay For Its Own Reconstruction.

    May 25, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. AdviceMF

    Mental health & medical health in VA is in shambles. ?BONUSES? Who came up with that? We took in every warm body we could for this war- watched them get mangled physically & mentally- and have dumped them out. Dubba should be the VA Head to clean up the mess.

    May 25, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. jboh

    This is a continous shame on America dating back to the Revolution. In the last 100 yrs, we've had the current scandal, the Walter Reed scandal, and Hooverville. As a people, our history is full of broken promises to our vets. In the day of all volunteer forces, this is even more scandalous.

    May 25, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  4. king

    The only way I see the va getting fixed is the repubs stop trying to cut and drown government in a tub. The repubs needs to provide the resources, and the president need to get a competent manager that will mange this resource. The congress needs to act firt though.

    May 25, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    America please WAKE UP

    Our government (Republicans and Democrats) announces many programs and give many promise to Veterans and Small businesses owners

    Veterans protect our nation so our government started the VA
    Small businesses save our economy our government started SBA

    Ask the veterans “Do you have experience”
    Ask the Mom & Pop business “Is your Business franchise”

    Then they says sorry, under our guidelines we can’t help you

    VA and SBA are jokes

    May 25, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Sounds like Miller is another political stooge, like Issa the car thief.

    May 25, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    This is a continous shame on America dating back to the Revolution. In the last 100 yrs, we've had the current scandal, the Walter Reed scandal, and Hooverville. As a people, our history is full of broken promises to our vets. In the day of all volunteer forces, this is even more scandalous.

    The current scandal is from Republicans in Congress not providing funding. The Walter Reed scandal was due to Republicans in Congress not providing funding. Hooverville (Republican Hoover) scandal was due to Republicans in Congress not providing funding. See a pattern here?

    May 25, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  8. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Republicans in political office are cowards. They thump their chests and claim to be "Patriots"! However, they never serve in the military they claim to love. Their children never serve in the military, yet they promote and devise these stupid wars and send our kids overseas to be cannon fodder. When OUR kids come home maimed in body, spirit and mind, they withhold needed funding for them, but give tax breaks to the military/industrial complex. This is areal scandal, but don't blame Obama. Blame the monsters who perpetuate this behavior; vote all Republicans out of office!

    May 25, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    The GOP CUT 10 BILLION from the VA BUDGET, thanks for your help GOP CLOWNS!!

    May 25, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  10. ja

    So true,

    May 25, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    Don’t ask his resignation cancel all health befits for elected officials

    May 25, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. J Anthony

    The era of chest-thumping,right-wing war-fever is coming to an end...either we temper the beast that is our military-industrial complex, or we trigger WW3 trying to police the world. Is this a hard choice. Transfer the bulk of those resources directly to our veterans.

    May 25, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Gonzo

    Once again, I see in the comments mention of the Walter Reed hospital scandal – which had nothing to do with the VA healthcare system. Walter Reed is an Army hospital, under the control and management of the United States Army. As usual, uninformed people trying to make comments about subjects they know nothing about.

    May 25, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. harold

    Miller is ducking the real problem, and that is congress not funding the system, even though they were warned several years ago about the extra demand that would occur as two wars wound down.

    Hypocrisy at its finest.

    May 25, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Marie MD

    The teaklans voted against building more VA hospitals while President Obama increased VA budget by $24M.
    These problems go back further than the 60s. Try WWI and veterans jailed because they were lied to by the government about money owed them and they rebelled against congress.

    May 25, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    This VA episode has been going on for the last fifty years. Not new any more. Just republican trash is this one.

    May 25, 2014 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  17. johnny utah

    this is a great example of government failure they fail at everything they do because these politicians don't give a damn about you or this country they are only leeches off the taxpayers backs worthless pieces of krapp. Few years there will be more pieces of krapp elected until the system, because it is to big and corrupt collapses .

    May 25, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  18. tony

    dont blame around. everything under his watch his responsible. if u work for the private company if some scandal happen the current ceo responsible. thex cant say previous ceo

    May 26, 2014 01:10 am at 1:10 am |