With a growing number of Republican and some Democratic lawmakers calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary
At the same time, Senate Republicans pressed Democrats to conduct more aggressive oversight of the VA, while Sen.
The measure also would expand the secretary of Veterans Affairs' authority to fire or demote employees and freeze bonuses to senior VA staff until the review is complete and reforms have been implemented.
"We really have come to a point where we need to have more than just good intentions," Sen.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee, in response to what its chairman
"Almost each passing day, there's a new location, a new allegation, a new whistle-blower," a Miller aide said.
A spokesman for the VA said the department was working with the committee, having provided more than 3,000 pages of documents. But a committee staffer noted the documents arrived at 2:30 a.m. Thursday, and the VA did not send anyone to Thursday's committee meeting. The VA defended itself by saying it didn't receive the request to appear until 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for a staffer to attend the 9 a.m. meeting, which was not enough notice.
VA officials summoned to appear before the committee are Joan Mooney, assistant secretary for congressional and legislative affairs; Dr. Thomas Lynch, assistant deputy undersecretary for health for clinical operations and management; and Michael Huff, congressional relations officer. If they fail to voluntarily show up for a hearing Wednesday, the subpoena will compel their appearance May 30.
The VA inspector general's investigation was expanded this week to include 26 sites. The inspector general's office, which previously identified VA facilities in Phoenix, San Antonio and Fort Collins, Colo., as the subject of its review, declined to identify the new locations. Richard J. Griffin, the VA's acting inspector general, has said he expects to have the findings of his investigation ready in August.
President Obama said Wednesday that Shinseki would complete a preliminary report next week, and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors is conducting a broader review of veterans healthcare to be delivered next month. Nabors met this week with veterans groups and was at the Phoenix facility Wednesday. That facility has been accused of maintaining secret waiting lists to hide delays in treating veterans.
Republican members of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee called for more hearings, on subjects ranging from the VA's treatment of whistle-blowers to its payment of bonuses, in order to begin "urgently needed action on reforms."
A spokesman for Sanders said the chairman had already pledged to hold more hearings on VA healthcare.
Sanders went to the Senate floor to complain about veterans' care becoming an election-year issue.