House VA chairman to deliver GOP address

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) will deliver the weekly GOP address, as lawmakers look to keep the spotlight on veteran health issues.

“Miller has been a leader of the House’s efforts to get to the bottom of and address the VA’s appointment manipulation schemes and delays in care that have been linked to the deaths of least 23 veterans,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement Friday.

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The House last month easily passed legislation championed by Miller that would grant the VA secretary powers to fire officials found responsible for mismanagement, sexual harassment and bullying behavior.

Miller’s efforts come amid a scandal over falsified wait list times at VA clinics around the country that critics allege led to deaths. 

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last Friday in the wake of two reports, including one by the department’s inspector general, which found agency employees engaged in fraudulent practices at its medical facilities.

"VA’s delays in care crisis is very real, very deadly, and as the inspector general and the department itself told us last week, systemic,” said Miller in a statement Friday.

He said lawmakers must “root out the culture of corruption and complacency that has taken hold within the department and is contributing to all of its most pressing challenges.”

Miller’s committee is set to hold two hearings next week. One will address the charges of data manipulation and a second will focus on the organizational structure of the VA.

The panel has invited Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who was appointed to temporarily replace Shinseki, to testify at that second hearing.

If Gibson accepts the invitation it would be his first appearance on Capitol Hill since assuming the VA post.