Lawmakers to subpoena VA secretary Shinseki in veterans health care probe

Lawmakers to subpoena VA secretary Shinseki in veterans health care probe

Credit: AP

FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2013, file photo, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki listens as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says a leadership change may help resolve what he calls "dysfunction" at the Department of Veterans Affairs, following allegations of corruption and avoidable deaths at the veterans' hospital in Phoenix. McConnell says the tenure of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is "embarrassing" and that the agency is in "a stunning period of dysfunction." McConnell isn't calling for Shinseki to step down, but says a change in leadership "might be a good thing."(AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

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by Ashley Fantz, CNN

azfamily.com

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 7:43 AM

Updated Thursday, May 8 at 7:43 AM

(CNN) -- The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in the wake of accusations that his department had deadly delays in health care at some of its hospitals, including the one in Phoenix.

The Shinseki subpoena will cover e-mails that allegedly discussed the destruction of a secret list, first reported by CNN, of veterans waiting for care at a Phoenix VA hospital.

The panel agreed to issue the subpoena in a voice vote Thursday morning.

Shinseki told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that he would not resign over allegations that U.S. veterans died awaiting care at VA hospitals across the country.

"I serve at the pleasure of the president," Shinseki told the newspaper when asked whether he would step down. "I signed on to make some changes. I have work to do."

At Tuesday's White House daily briefing, press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama takes seriously the allegations that veterans died waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, Carney said. He repeated that the VA's inspector general is conducting an independent investigation into the allegations.

"The President remains confident in Secretary Shinseki's ability to lead the department and take appropriate action," Carney said, repeating the White House response this week to two veterans groups' calls for Shinseki's ouster.

On Monday the American Legion, the nation's largest veteran organization, and another veterans group, Concerned Veterans for America, called for Shinseki's resignation.

Those demands followed months of CNN exclusive reporting about U.S. veterans who have died while they waited for treatment at VA hospitals around the country.

Phoenix VA officials deny secret wait list; doctors say they're lying

The national commander of the American Legion said the group's call for Shinseki's ouster is a very serious gesture.

"It's not something we do lightly. But we do so today because it is our responsibility as advocate for the men and women who have worn this nation's uniform," said Daniel M. Dellinger.

Pete Hegseth, CEO of the Concerned Veterans of America, offered a statement: "We're proud to stand with The American Legion as they take this courageous and historic stand. As America's largest veterans organization, their moral authority on this issue is unimpeachable. We applaud their demands for accountability at the very top of the Department of Veterans Affairs."

CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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