The top Republican on the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs panel said President Obama’s executive actions “fall far short” of what is needed to fix the troubled agency, which has been plagued by scandal and mismanagement in recent months.
House VA panel chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said Obama’s speech Tuesday should have included a plan to meet with veterans and families who have suffered under VA care. In addition, Obama should order his administration to do more to cooperate with congressional investigators who are looking into the troubled agency, Miller said.
“What we need from the president right now is more follow-through and less flash when it comes to helping veterans,” Miller said after Obama’s North Carolina speech concluded.
President Obama traveled to North Carolina on Tuesday to announce a series of executive actions aimed at helping veterans, who have endured long wait times and substandard care at some VA facilities.
Obama’s announcement came as the VA inspector general released a report on the treatment of veterans at the Phoenix VA facility. The IG found “patterns of obstacles to care that resulted in negative impact on the quality of care provided.” The report also found 3,500 veterans waiting for care on an “unofficial wait list.”
Obama told the American Legion’s 96th convention he is signing executive actions aimed at improving the mental health treatment and support for veterans. They will also help veterans receive home mortgages and student loans and help them find new jobs after leaving the military.
Obama said he has already moved to improve both transparency and accountability within the VA, signing into law legislation that gives the secretary greater power to fire incompetent executives and more protection for whistleblowers.
Miller rejected that claim as well.
“No one has been fired as a result of the VA scandal, the department is still sitting on 113 outstanding information requests from the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and VA whistleblowers who tried to expose problems are still enduring retaliation,” Miller said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Obama's announcement and said it would help to end the epidemic of suicide that has plagued military veterans, among other things.
"These executive actions are an investment in the lives of our service members, veterans, and their families who have already sacrificed so much to keep us safe,” Pelosi said.