After a month of scandal, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki submitted his resignation to the President. General Shinseki was Army Chief-of-Staff during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has been VA Secretary since Obama’s first inauguration. In Georgia, Congressman David Scott has called for Shinseki to lose his job since last year after WSB-TV reported that four veterans died at an Atlanta VA hospital due to mismanagement. Once Senator McCain and vulnerable Democrat candidates (including Michelle Nunn) called for Shinseki’s resignation, press secretaries the nation over began working on the press releases. Republicans solemnly cheer while Democrats mournfully shake their heads.
In what appears to be terrible timing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has also resigned today. If the White House is particularly unlikely, confirmation of rumors Bo Obama may also resign could extend the story to next week’s news cycle.
Barrow Statement on Resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Appointment of Acting Secretary
Price Responds to VA Secretary’s Resignation
Isakson Statement on VA Secretary Resignation:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, released the following statement today regarding the resignation of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Erik Shinseki.
“Now that the facts are coming in, including the release of the VA Inspector General’s report, it is clear that Secretary Shinseki has made the right decision that is in the best interest of the VA and himself. It is now critical that we move to focus on who and what has caused the wrongdoing and put into place a new system of accountability for the future. We need to institute a culture of safety and timely service to our veterans.”
Isakson has been outspoken on the issue of veterans’ health care and questioned Shinseki during a Senate VA Committee hearing on May 15, 2014, over the agency’s repeated failure to clean up widespread misconduct, malpractice and scheduling manipulation dating as far back as April 2010.
Additionally, Isakson is a co-sponsor of S.2013, the VA Management Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation which gives the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to fire senior leaders within VA who are not performing their jobs. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed its version of the bill with overwhelming support.
CONGRESSMAN SANFORD BISHOP STATEMENT ON SHINSEKI RESIGNATION
“Without a doubt, General Eric Shinseki is a fine man with a great record of service to this country. As Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, I am grateful for the positive accomplishments Secretary Shinseki brought to the Department and wish him well in all his future endeavors. Through his work at the VA, over 2 million new veterans enrolled in health care; spending on mental health issues, suicide prevention, and treatment of post-traumatic stress substantially increased; rates of veteran unemployment and homelessness were cut; an emphasis was placed on improving women’s care; and the VA disabilities claims backlog was reduced by more than 50%.
“While I regret that these dire circumstances have brought about this resignation, it is important to be mindful of the issues which the Department of Veterans Affairs still faces. No matter who is at the helm of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American people expect and veterans deserve the best service possible. In addition to completing and acting upon the ongoing IG investigation and recommendations regarding the management of the hospital system, this service from the VA includes continuing to address veterans’ homelessness, full development of an integrated DoD-VA Electronic Health Records System, and eliminating the claims backlog for all veterans waiting for the benefits they are due. I look forward to working with Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson to address these important issues, as highlighted in a letter sent today from Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson and me.”
To view the letter, please click here.
Kingston Commends First Step to VA Accountability
Washington – Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) released the following statement on the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki announced today: “I commend the President for taking this first step towards ensuring proper care and treatment of our veterans, and I encourage him to remain engaged in fixing the culture of corruption at the VA. The next leader at the VA must act to root out the negligence, mismanagement, and lack of care prevalent across the bureaucracy. The government-run healthcare model is failing our veterans and Congress should seek better solutions for our heroes who all Americans agree deserve the very best.”
Congressman Kingston wrote to the President about unconscionable delays more than a year ago, and was reassured in a reply that Secretary Shinseki was aware of the issues and addressing them. The letter also included an acknowledgement and appreciation of increased funding for the Veterans Administration. The original letter can be viewed here, and the reply here.
Congressman Kingston is a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and formerly represented the Augusta VA Hospital.