House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) said he believes President Barack Obama on Friday will hold a long talk with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Friday that could result in Shinseki’s resignation.
“I believe that the president is going to seriously discuss how much longer, if any, the secretary can stay on his post,” Miller said in a C-SPAN interview.
It became clear late Thursday that Obama would meet with Shinseki on Friday, which prompted speculation that Shinseki would be asked to leave. Republicans and Democrats have both called for his resignation after a Wednesday interim report that said veterans in Phoenix were facing average wait times of 115 days for healthcare appointments.
That report also found 1,700 veterans that were not on any wait list at all, a sign that VA officials were still juggling wait lists to give the appearance of short wait times.
Since that report, a few dozen Democrats have called for Shinseki to resign, and on Thursday, White House Spokesman Jay Carney refused to say whether Obama continues to have confidence in Shinseki at the VA.
In his C-SPAN interview, Miller again said he wants Shinseki to resign, since the VA ignored years of warnings about the long waiting times veterans have faced for healthcare services. But Miller also said the problem is not caused by Shinseki, and is instead a systemic issue that needs to be fixed.
“There unfortunately is no respect or fear of retribution from leadership in regards to people not doing their job,” he said of the situation at the VA. “You do hear stories of retribution for people blowing the whistle, and that’s the wrong way to approach this situation.”
“People are either afraid or just don’t think they have to tell you the truth,” he added. “They’ll only bring him the good news, they won’t tell him the bad news. And I think that’s why everybody at the VA and the White House was caught off guard by how big this problem has become.”