More Members of Congress Call for Shinseki Resignation
Many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are calling for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, following the release of an independent review confirming allegations “systemic” problems at VA medical facilities.
A number of Senate Democrats, especially those who face difficult reelection campaigns this year, have joined the ranks of politicians asking Shinseki to step down. Senators Mark Udall of Colorado, John Walsh of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Al Franken of Minnesota, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire all called for Shinseki’s resignation on Wednesday. Senator Udall released a statement saying, “The systemic problems at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are so entrenched that they require new leadership to be fixed.”
According to The Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California spoke with reporters on Thursday about her discussion with Secretary Shinseki. She said the Secretary informed her that the VA Inspector General suggested that he not remove any employees at the Phoenix VA medical center until a more thorough review of allegations is finished. She added that the dismissal of Shinseki would only serve to reward the people who misled him about the problems in the medical facilities.
In addition to Pelosi, Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio has refrained from calling for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation. According to Politico, he spoke with reporters on Thursday, telling them that he is “going to continue to reserve judgment on Gen. Shinseki.” Instead the Speaker is turning towards President Obama for answers, saying, “The real issue is that the president is the one that should be held accountable … For the president to say that he didn’t know anything about it is rather shocking. The president is going to have to step up here.”
President Obama so far has stood by Shinseki, and he and the House leaders are not alone in supporting the Veterans Affairs Secretary. Other notable politicians in this group include Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Army veteran Representative Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. According to The Washington Post, the VFW and Disabled American Veterans groups are supporting Shinseki as well.
General Shinseki does not have any immediate plans to resign, and explained his position in a USA Today op-ed on Thursday. “We are doing all we can to accelerate access to care throughout our system and in communities where veterans reside,” he wrote. “We, at the Department of Veterans Affairs are redoubling our efforts, with commitment and compassion, to restore integrity to our processes to earn veterans’ trust.” In conclusion, he added, “After 38 years in the Army, I am honored and privileged to serve veterans as the secretary of Veterans Affairs, and I remain committed to providing the high-quality care and benefits that veterans have earned and deserve. And we will.”
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