Obama to address VA controversy after meeting agency head


President Obama will address the growing Veterans Affairs scandal on Wednesday in public comments after a meeting with the head of the agency.

Obama is set to meet on Wednesday morning with both Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiTrump VA pick boosts hopes for reform Trump VA pick faces challenge to convince senators he’s ready for job Is Ronny Jackson qualified to be the next VA secretary? Let's look at his predecessors MORE and White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, who is leading an investigation into the issue.

The White House has been rocked by charges of mismanagement at VA hospitals and clinics. Dozens of veterans have allegedly died because of delays in treatment, and VA hospitals have also been accused of keeping secret patient lists to hide excessive waiting times.

A number of Republicans have called on Shinseki to resign, and the House will vote Wednesday on legislation that would make it easier to fire and discipline career officials at the VA. 

In a statement, the White House said Obama would “receive an update on the situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs” during the 10 a.m. meeting, which will be closed to press.

Last week, Obama appointed Nabors to oversee an internal review of policies and procedures at the VA.

Nabors began work at the VA on Monday, and on Tuesday met with six veterans’ organizations that have expressed outrage over the alleged mismanagement. That included a session with representatives from The American Legion, which has called for Shinseki’s resignation in light of the allegations.

The longtime Obama aide is expected to travel to Phoenix on Thursday to meet with officials at a VA facility where as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for care. While there, he’s expected to meet with Steve Young, who was placed in charge of the facility after Shinseki suspended the director and two other top employees there. Nabors will also tour the facility and meet with local veterans groups.

“The president sent Rob Nabors over there because Rob Nabors is a professional and is one of his most trusted advisers,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. “And he expects Rob to work with the secretary and others at the VA on this review so that we can get to the bottom of these issues, find out what happened, take remedial action where necessary and hold people accountable where necessary.”

The White House has said that there is no specific timetable by which they want the investigation completed.

“The president obviously wants both of these two inquiries to proceed efficiently and quickly, but to be comprehensive and effective,” Carney said. “So he’s not setting an arbitrary deadline.”

Separately, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is slated to meet with Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. That meeting comes a day after McDonough sought to assure House Democrats that the administration would take swift action to address the situation at the VA.

This story was updated at 9:44 a.m.