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Opening Statement of The Honorable Michael Michaud, Ranking Minority Member, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Tonight we again find ourselves in a difficult position.  I appreciate the witnesses appearing before us this evening, and for the additional production push of materials that came overnight.  Unfortunately, those materials, and the release of the interim IG report today, did not provide the answers we sought, but rather, just raised more questions.

Mr. Chairman, I share your frustration.  I share your passion for getting to the bottom of this issue.  We have been bipartisan on so many things within this Committee.  I am hopeful we can continue that, even as this situation gets increasingly difficult and emotionally-charged.

I am not completely satisfied with VA’s response to our inquiries and their compliance with the subpoena.  However, I do feel, over the past few days, there has been a shift toward increased responsiveness and offers to try and work harder to satisfy our requirements.  A key takeaway for me tonight will be hearing the VA respond to our requests for information, and what their reasons are to-date for failing to do so in a timely manner.

Let me be clear.  I am not happy with this situation.  I am not wholly satisfied with VA’s responsiveness.  We expect answers.  We will get to the bottom of this issue, uncover the truth and ensure a solution is implemented that never allows something like this to happen again. 

We expect accountability – full accountability – for every failure that harmed a veteran, and for every individual who perpetrated such harm.  I strongly urge the IG to diligently – but swiftly – provide a comprehensive, final report so we can take action and people can be held accountable.

We all share the same goal of ensuring our veterans receive the highest quality care and treatment possible – they deserve nothing less.  I believe, as national leaders, we must rise above politics and emotion, and act pragmatically to achieve the best outcomes for veterans.  We must take responsible actions that will yield real results, and take care not to politicize our work or this process.   I look forward to the opportunity to get some substantive answers from the VA tonight. 

With that Mr. Chairman, I yield back.