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GOP senators call on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign

Carney: "The president remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the department and take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings."
By JC Sevcik   |   May 7, 2014 at 4:06 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) -- In light of several recent scandals facing the VA, three Republican senators called for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Tuesday.

The three GOP representatives -- John Cornyn of Texas, Jerry Moran of Kansas, and Richard Burr of North Carolina -- are demanding Shinseki step down amid allegations of preventable deaths due to extended wait times, falsified appointment records and secret waiting lists within the Phoenix VA Healthcare System and other VA hospitals throughout the country in recent years, including Fort Collins, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia.

Addressing the floor, Moran, who is a member of the Veterans Affairs committee, said:

"It's clear that accountability at VA is absent, oversight doesn't mean much. There’s a difference in wanting change and leading it to happen. Today I am demanding accountability and true transformation within the VA system in its culture from top to bottom and all across the country. Secretary Shinseki seemingly is unwilling or unable to do so, and change must be made at the top. I ask the secretary to submit his resignation, and I ask President Obama to accept that resignation.”

Cornyn backed up Moran later in the day. “The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness, and back to providing the service our veterans deserve,” he said.

Shinseki’s time as secretary has “come to an end,” he added, claiming the secretary’s time in office was marred by “bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did not go so far as to call for Shinseki’s resignation, but said “a change in leadership might be a step in the right direction.”

Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee, Bernie Saunders, I-Vt, said, "While it might be temporarily satisfying to call for firing someone, it doesn't get us any closer to the truth or solve problems that may exist." 

The senators' calls for Shinseki to step down came just days after the National Commander of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, publicly demanded Shinseki resign over the avoidable deaths in Phoenix and elsewhere.

The director and other top management of the Phoenix VA were put on administrative leave as a result of the scandal and the Department of Veterans Affairs immediately launched an investigation.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said President Obama "remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the department and take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.”

Follow @JCSevcik and @UPI on Twitter.
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