WASHINGTON — Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill. met for about 30 minutes on Thursday with embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to discuss the national scandal regarding treatment delays and cooked books at a VA facility in Phoenix and allegations along the same lines at the Hines VA hospital near Maywood and other Illinois facilities.
The two men said in separate interviews after their meeting that the VA inspector general will be looking at the Hines allegations. Sen. Mark Kirk R-Ill. has also asked the VA IG to determine if there are scheduling problems and cover-ups at Hines.
There will be a meeting between the VA inspector general and the Hines whistleblower, Shinseki said in answer to my questions about Hines. Durbin said regarding that meeting, “they are trying to get it together as quickly as possible,”
Shinseki said he would not speculate about the situation at Hines but did note that a recently concluded audit at Hines, one done within the last week our team “I don’t recall anything that popped up.”
Durbin has not called for Shinseki’s resignation. “He has proven his love of this country and veterans, regardless of the political outcome. ….I heard from him what I wanted to hear.”
Shinseki and Durbin met in Durbins’ hide-away office on the Senate side of the Capitol. Afterwards, Shenseki, speaking to a few reporters said a national audit may be done next week. He was asked why he is the right person for the job.
“Others get to make that call, right? I serve at the pleasure of the president,” he said. Shinseki, a reporter said, has been “under the gun.”
To that Shenseki said, “This is not the first time.”
“I came here to do one thing: Which is to take care of veterans and families. We’ve run hard for five years, I think we have good things to show for it, there’s more to be done,” he said.
Shinseki in reply to a question said he was not asked by President Barack Obama for his resignation.
“No. You guys know me better than that.”