The top Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is threatening legal action against the Department of Veterans Affairs if the VA doesn’t comply with his request for infomration about the VA healthcare scandal by Monday.
Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) told AM 1620 News Radio in Pensacola, Florida on Thursday that he warned Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson personally about possible court action if the department fails to comply.
“I told the secretary yesterday, if we don’t have everything and I mean everything by Monday, we’re going to petition the federal court to force the VA to comply with the subpoena,” Miller said Thursday.
Miller’s committee has been asking for information about how VA officials tried to hide the fact that veterans were waiting much longer than a month to see VA doctors. Miller said in a hearing last week that VA officials are still holding back documents about the extent to which secret lists were compiled on veterans who had yet to seen doctors for several months.
Miller also said this information has been denied to the committee despite a subpoena that the committee issued.
On the radio program, Miller said Acting Secretary Gibson said he wants to “reset” the department’s relationship with Congress. But Miller said earlier in the week that he wants Gibson to honor the subpoena with which former Secretary Eric Shinseki never fully complied.
“The VA has not been doing it right, and it is important that they get on the track to making it happen,” Miller said.
Miller told host Andrew McKay that he has not been asked who he would recommend to install as a permanent leader for the VA.
“You would think, but no, I haven’t received any information from the White House from the time this store broke,” he said. “They think they are the only ones responsible for trying to get to the bottom of this.”
Miller also said he suspects the Obama administration announced the decision to release five Taliban leaders in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a way to stop the press from focusing on the VA scandal.
“There’s no question that this pushed the VA crisis to the back page, and in some instances totally out of the news that’s being provided today,” he said.
But Miller said if the White House was trying to change the subject, they failed miserably, as many people are questioning the wisdom of the exchange.
“The optics are absolutely abysmal for this White House,” Miller said. “They may have thought they were going to change the VA story. They did push it off the front page, but they actually ignited a fire storm that people can all rally around in a bipartisan way.”