Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki took to the opinion page of USA Today on Thursday to outline everything he's doing to fix the "reprehensible" scandal plaguing his department. It's a start, but probably not enough to stop the growing list of members of Congress calling for his head. (Update: Shinseki has resigned.)
As soon as Wednesday's preliminary report from the VA's Office of Inspector General found that delayed medical care to veterans and cooked books is "systemic throughout" the nation's VA hospitals, many members of Congress who were on the fence quickly called for Shinseki to step down. Here's a list of every member of Congress calling for him to resign, or for President Obama to force him to resign. (Updated Friday 11:37 am)
Sen. Richard Burr
Burr, the top Republican on the Senate Veterans Committee, drew the ire of several veterans groups when he criticized them for not calling for Shinseki's resignation. "I must recognize and commend ... the American Legion team for taking a principled stand, before the hearing and during it, and calling for leadership change at the VA," he wrote.
Sen. Rob Portman
President Obama should immediately remove VA leadership, hold those responsible accountable, & fire Sec. Shinseki http://t.co/iXMz1LcqOM— Rob Portman (@robportman) May 29, 2014
Sen. John Boozman
"The public, a large portion of the veterans’ community, and much of Congress have lost faith in Secretary Shinseki's ability" to solve the problem, Boozman said in a statement. "The administration must take quick action to regain that confidence .. While a leadership change at VA is in order, a new secretary alone will not absolve the President of his responsibility to ensure our veterans receive quality care in a timely manner."
Sen. John McCain
McCain was initially hesitant to call for Shinseki to step down until all the facts were in, but after the IG report confirmed concerns that the VA's problems are widespread, he reversed course on CNN Wednesday. “I have not called for it. I was going to wait until the hearing that’s going to take place here very soon," McCain said. "I haven’t said this before, but I think it’s time for General Shinseki to move on.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn
"If the Secretary knew about any of these atrocities, he should resign," Lamborn said according to The Washington Post.
Rep. Buck McKeon
McKeon is the House Armed Services Chairman.
Rep. Jeff Miller
Miller is the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman.
Rep. Jackie Walorski
"I've heard enough about #VAscandal to call for Shinseki's resignation," Walorski said to CNN.
Rep. Alan Nunnelee
The buck stops with the pres. It is time for the pres. to take responsibility, fire Shinseki and solve the problem #VAaccountability— Alan Nunnelee (@RepAlanNunnelee) May 29, 2014
Rep. Richard Nugent
"Frankly, at this point, I believe the strongest leadership that Secretary Shinseki could show in this regard is to resign. It’s simply gone too far," Nugent said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “I want employees at the VA nationwide to understand that this is not a witch hunt to come after anybody. But if you know of wrongdoing, this is your time to come forward."
Rep. Erik Paulsen
I am asking for Sec. Shinseki to step down as head of the VA. We must do better for our veterans. My statement: http://t.co/p2HCWgoQgZ— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) May 29, 2014
Sen. Mary Landrieu
"Shinseki served our nation with distinction but recent unacceptable actions under his watch regrettably means new leadership is needed," Landrieu tweeted late Thursday afternoon. "It will take a new leader with effective tools to fix these systematic #VA problems and provide the quality care our veterans deserve."
Sen. Mark Begich
Begich will hold a press conference on Thursday, according to Politico. He's up for re-election this year.
Sen. Jeff Merkley
"Secretary Shinseki should step down to clear the path for leadership that can offer a fresh start," he said in a statement.
Sen. Tom Udall
"It’s clear to me that Secretary Shinseki must step down to make way for new leadership that can restore accountability and transparency," he said in a statement.
Sen. Martin Heinrich
Heinrich said he has a "mountain of respect" for Shinseki, but “I call on President Obama to appoint a new Secretary."
Sen. Kay Hagan
Hagan was "outraged" by the findings of the IG report, and “in the interest of regaining the trust of our veterans, and implementing real and lasting reforms, I believe it is time for him to step aside and allow new leadership to take the helm at the VA to correct these failings immediately.” Hagan is seeking re-election this year.
Also running for re-election.
Sen. Mark Udall
Udall was the first Democratic Senator to call for Shinseki's resignation. He's seeking re-election this year.
Sen. John Walsh
In his statement, Walsh "the Senate's only Iraq War veteran," said "it is time for President Obama to remove Secretary Shinseki from office." Also up for re-election this year.
Sen. Mark Warner
Gen Shinseki has served US w/distinction, but shld step aside now to allow focus to be on making critically needed changes to fix VA— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) May 29, 2014
Rep. Tammy Duckworth
Duckworth, a former Veteran Affairs official and veteran, said Friday her former boss should step down to direct the conversation back to veterans:
Our first priority should be the veterans and at this point whether Secretary Shinseki will stay or go is too much of a distraction. I think he has to go. He certainly loves veterans, but it's time for new leadership, it's time to get someone in who will put veterans first. We've moved away from veterans being the primacy of the conversation. It's now a political discussion and that's now where it should be when it comes to our nation's heroes.
Rep. Ron Barber
Rep. Jerry McNerney
“I believe the best way to restore the confidence of our veterans is for Secretary Shinseki to step down" - @RepMcNerney stated Wednesday— Joe Goldeen Reporter (@JoeGoldeen) May 29, 2014