OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Senators stand up against Shinseki

THE TOPLINE: A slew of Democratic senators called for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiHouse approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees Shulkin confirmed to lead Dept. of Veterans Affairs MORE to resign on Thursday, a day after the VA's inspector general issued a report confirming inappropriate scheduling practices. 

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy Michael KaineWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Insurer Anthem to cover bare ObamaCare counties in Virginia Senate votes down Paul's bid to revoke war authorizations MORE (D-Va.) became the 11th Democratic senator to call for Shinseki's ouster in a wave of calls that began flooding in after the report was released on Wednesday. 

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Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichLive coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill Trade agency should listen to Congress on solar case MORE (D-N.M.) became the first Democratic senator not up for reelection this fall to call for Shinseki's resignation, signaling that it has gone further than a campaign issue between Democrats and Republicans. 

Most of the Democratic senators issuing calls for Shinseki to step down face competitive races this November. 

Other than Heinrich and Kaine, those calling for Shinseki to resign include Sens. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack MORE (Minn.), Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuCNN producer on new O'Keefe video: Voters are 'stupid,' Trump is 'crazy' CNN's Van Jones: O'Keefe Russia 'nothingburger' video 'a hoax' Trump posts O'Keefe videos on Instagram MORE (La.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (Ore.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Five things to know about the Kaspersky-Russia controversy DHS bans Kaspersky software in federal agencies MORE (N.H.), Mark UdallMark UdallDemocratic primary could upend bid for Colorado seat Picking 2018 candidates pits McConnell vs. GOP groups Gorsuch's critics, running out of arguments, falsely scream 'sexist' MORE (Colo.), Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallIT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill MORE (N.M.), John Walsh (Mont.), and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax hit by earlier hack | What to know about Kaspersky controversy | Officials review EU-US privacy pact Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Facebook under fire over Russian ads in election MORE (Va.).

According to a list compiled by Military Times' Leo Shane, by Thursday evening, at least 63 House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans are calling for Shinseki to resign. 

So far, 21 House Democrats have called for Shinseki's ouster. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam SmithAdam SmithCongress, authorize fresh base closures to strengthen our military GOP lawmaker drops effort to force vote to extend DACA protections Trump officials brief lawmakers on North Korea MORE (D-Wash.), though, has refrained from calling for his resignation. 

Both Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight MORE (D-Nev.) both urged a solution to fix the roots of the problem. 

John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerSpeculation mounts, but Ryan’s job seen as safe Boehner warns Trump: Don't pull out of Korea-US trade deal GOP Rep: Ryan wasting taxpayers dollars by blocking war authorization debate MORE shifted blame to the White House: "The real issue here is that the president is the one who should be held accountable,” he said.

The White House only issued tepid support of Shinseki, with press secretary Jay Carney saying the president believed he "performed overall well," and "put his heart and soul" into providing care for veterans. But he emphasized the president was still waiting for the results of an internal investigation. 

SENATE DEMS TARGETED: In the midst of the Shinseki storm, a veterans group announced it would launch an ad campaign against five Senate Democrats in tight reelection races.

Concerned Veterans For America’s “Walk the Walk” campaign will take to the airwaves against Sens. Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) to pressure them to back the 2014 Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act, which passed the full House 390-33 last week.

That measure would make it easier for the VA secretary to fire underperforming officials.

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 Consumers the big winners of Amazon-Whole Foods merger MORE (D-Minn), Hagan, Landrieu, Shaheen, Pryor and Warner have all backed a bill being floated by Sen. Mark Rubio (R-Fla.) that would grant the secretary of Veterans Affairs, be it Shinseki or his successor, greater power to fire VA managers found to be incompetent for offenses such as mismanagement and sexual harassment. 

HAGEL BEEFS UP REVIEW: Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Billionaires stopping climate change action have a hold on Trump, GOP MORE has upped the priority and speed of a review of the Pentagon's military health system, as the Department of Veterans Affairs comes under increasing fire for delays in care.

Hagel announced the 90-day review earlier this week and on Thursday morning he assigned the Pentagon's No. 2 — Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work — to lead it.

Previously, the review was going to be led by Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson, but the issue was given greater priority following the interim release of a VA inspector general report that confirmed that officials tried to hide long wait times for primary care appointments.

Hagel is also requesting regular updates on the review, and said he expects the first update and an action plan by June 6. The review will focus on access to healthcare, safety of care, and quality of care.

He has requested a final report to be delivered to him no later than Aug. 29.

"To the degree we learn about issues affecting the healthcare of our military health beneficiaries, including active duty service members, retirees, and their eligible family members, we will address them," Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

HOUSE APPROPRIATORS MAKE OPENING BID. The House Appropriations Defense subcommittee revealed its draft of a $491 billion Pentagon spending bill for fiscal year 2015.

Lawmakers also included a $79.4 billion placeholder for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which fund ongoing war efforts in Afghanistan. However, since the White House has not submitted an OCO request to Congress that figure is likely to change.

The proposed legislation, which will be taken up behind closed doors on Friday, mirrors the authorization measure adopted by the full House last week, in that it nixes many of the cost-cutting ideas put forward by the Obama administration.

For instance, the preliminary bill provides $789 million to refuel the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, a vessel the Pentagon wanted to mothball early. It also contains $128.1 billion for personnel costs, including a 1.8 percent pay raise for troops rather than the 1 percent hike proposed by the White House.

It also restores $100 million cut to commissary subsidies approved last week by the full chamber in the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill.

The bill would also bar the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and prevents the refurbishment of U.S.-based facilities for the purpose of holding terror suspects.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-Snowden email fell short of NSA criticism

-Advocates call for spy court changes

-Plame: CIA outing ‘colossally stupid’

-VA warned not to ignore other programs while fixing claims backlog

-Hagel to decide ‘fairly soon’ about detainees

 

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