By Kristina Wong - 05/08/14 03:57 PM EDT
Shinseki to testify before Senate Veterans panel
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiVeterans group blasts VA secretary, despite words of regret Cruz: VA secretary 'should resign' VA secretary refuses to apologize for Disney comments MORE will testify next Thursday before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
The hearing on the state of the Veterans Administration comes as Shinseki is facing calls to resign after reports that veterans died while waiting for treatment at hospitals around the country.
“I take these allegations very seriously,” said VA Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Both sides gear up for debate UK's Corbyn calls for unity after reelection as Labour Party head Green group endorses in key Senate races MORE (I-Vt.) on Thursday.
Two prominent veterans groups and several lawmakers have called for Shinseki to step down while the department's inspector general investigates the claims.
The secretary was also subpoenaed on Thursday by the House Veterans Affairs Committee over the scandal at a VA hospital in Phoenix, where administrators allegedly falsified waiting lists to conceal delays in providing treatment.
Similar allegations have been made about a VA facility in Colorado.
The White House has said President Obama stands by Shinseki, and many leading lawmakers, including Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio), have stopped short of calling for his resignation.
Sanders on Thursday expressed confidence in the VA’s investigation into the deaths.
“I expect the [VA] inspector general will conduct the investigation thoroughly and provide this committee with an objective analysis of these allegations,” Sanders added.
The Vermont senator said next week’s hearing would take a broader look at the overall VA healthcare system that serves 6.2 million veterans at hundreds of locations across the country.
During a hearing on Thursday, he noted that "some 200,000 veterans get care every single day," and that "independent studies show that VA provides, in general, excellent care to our veterans."
However, he added, "In a system as large and bureaucratic as the VA, it is imperative that we uncover the problems that exist in the system and address them boldly."