The House Veterans Affairs Committee voted Thursday to subpoena Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to answer questions about an unfolding waiting-list scandal that some critics of the Obama administration claim contributed to the deaths of 40 veterans at a VA facility in Phoenix.
The subpoena, only the second in the history of the committee, seeks emails and written correspondence sent to or received by Shinseki and a number of other VA officials since April 9.
Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., noted that the committee had contacted the VA numerous times before sending a letter on May 1 asking for any material related to wait times at the Phoenix VA hospital. "Yesterday, May 7, I received a response from VA that does not — does not — fully answer the very simple questions that I asked," Miller said. "Therefore the time for request for this matter is over."
Miller called Thursday's action "a historic vote," noting that the committee has voted to issue a subpoena only once before — and that subpoena wasn't even delivered after the VA handed over the information in question.
The ranking Democrat on the panel, Michael H. Michaud of Maine, who was the only other member to speak at the markup, called the VA's response to Miller's letter "insufficient." He said the subpoena was sufficiently limited in scope.
The Phoenix VA hospital has been at the center of a scandal recently, as allegations surfaced that up to 40 veterans may have died due to delays in care . At issue is whether the facility maintained a secret waiting list for patients.
Megan Scully contributed to this report.