House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., agree that the Veterans Affairs Department scandal won't be fixed by firing VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, although for different reasons.
The top House lawmakers seem poised to fight about how much President Obama should be held responsible for the deadly deceptions about veterans' care made by the department.
"I really do think that we have to be careful about thinking that just because you've removed the top person means that you've changed the systemic problems that existed in the organization 10 years before Shinseki, or five years at least before Shinseki became the secretary," Pelosi told reporters Thursday.
Boehner is also refusing to call for Shinseki's head. “The question I ask myself is, is his resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem, is it going to help us find out what is really going on?” Boehner said. “And the answer I keep getting is no.”
Unlike Pelosi, though, who lays the blame for the scandal at the feet of staffers below Obama's political appointee and to the decisions of former President George W. Bush, Boehner and House Republicans put the onus on the current White House occupant.
"The real issue here is that, the president is the one who should be held accountable," Boehner added.
House Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reminded reporters that he had requested a Government Accountability Office study of the wait times at the VA and wrote to Shinseki in January 2013 asking for the recommendations to be implemented.
"You say you're just now finding out about it, when a report was done years prior, gave you recommendations, the House Republicans have sent you a letter to change it, and we've been ignored," McCarthy told reporters.