Speaker John A. Boehner and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met Monday afternoon to discuss the huge backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability claims, according to the speaker’s office.
“Mr. McDonough asked to meet with the speaker after he urged the president to address the unacceptable backlog at the Veterans Administration,” a spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, told CQ Roll Call.
The weekly report on the VA backlog said on Monday that, as of April 26, the number of disability claims that have gone unanswered for more than 125 days — the benchmark for the backlog — is 319,363, with 596,061 veterans in total waiting for the VA.
Boehner penned an op-ed at the end of March titled “Fix the VA Backlog Once and For All.”
McDonough has rarely met with the Ohio Republican beyond an initial meeting with Boehner when he became the White House chief of staff in February 2013.
McDonough emerged from the speaker’s office around 5:30 p.m. Monday after about a half-hour visit and said it was “always good to see the speaker.”
When CQ Roll Call asked McDonough what topics he and Boehner had discussed, specifically mentioning the VA backlog and immigration, McDonough declined to substantively answer.
“I don’t have anything more to say,” he said repeatedly.
Boehner has reignited speculation whether the House would address immigration this year after he mocked his Republican colleagues for their unwillingness to take up the immigration issue.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.