Shinseki Resigns; Congressional Delegation Reacts

May 30, 2014 15:30 pm

by Chet Martin · 5 comments

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

 
WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) today released the following statement on the resignation of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, and the appointment of Acting Secretary, Sloan Gibson.
Congressman Barrow said:
“For nearly 50 years, General Shinseki has honorably served this country in various capacities, serving with special distinction in our nation’s military.  The problems at the VA do not undo the decades of service he’s given to our country.  Unfortunately, these problems are much more serious than we were led to believe, and the only way to move forward is to begin a top-to-bottom rebuilding of the Agency. You couldn’t find a nicer person or more dedicated public servant than General Eric Shinseki, but this changing of the guard is critical to move the VA forward.”
Congressman Barrow continued:
“I had the honor of meeting one-on-one with now Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson last week in my office in Washington to discuss the issues at the VA.  From our meeting, I found him to be extremely engaged and rightfully frustrated at the situation that has unfolded.  I will remain in contact with Acting Secretary Gibson to ensure that we identify how these problems started, and to ensure that they never happen again.  We owe that to the veterans who’ve given so much to our country.”

Price Responds to VA Secretary’s Resignation

Calls Systemic Crisis a “Failure of Design”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06), vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, issued the following statement after President Obama announced the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
“Secretary Shinseki’s resignation gives the Obama Administration the opportunity to put in place new leadership at the Veterans Administration. Hopefully that will help. However, as has been clear from the very beginning, the problems at the VA are larger than one man. As has been stated, this is a ‘systemic’ crisis that is leaving too many veterans out in the cold, that is threatening their health and well-being. When you have a systemic problem, it’s not a funding issue. It’s a failure of design. There are frankly too many policies and protocols in the bureaucracy of Washington that build barriers to quality care. Our focus should be on how we make the VA a department that is responsive to the needs of our veterans and offers them the choices in care we all desire for ourselves and our families.”


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

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, issued the following statement regarding the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki:

 “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.

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

xdog May 30, 2014 at 5:40 pm

That’s probably for the best. It’s the second go-round for Shinseki. Remember when he ran afoul of Rumsfeld for suggesting that several hundred thousand soldiers would be needed to secure post-war Iraq?

Dave Bearse May 31, 2014 at 1:55 pm

It’s ironic that he’s going down for the failure in the administration of healthcare to soldiers he predicted would be needed.

John Konop May 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm

He is obviously a true war hero who gave much for his country. This does not mean he was the right guy for the job. I would recommend putting a real businessman like a Mitt Romney type in charge of the VA.

Harry May 30, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Not a bad suggestion. Somebody has also suggested to liquidate the VA, sell off the assets, and give veterans means-based vouchers they can use in the health system. This would benefit those who are geographically far from a VA facility.

Rich May 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm

The VA has been a disgrace since before the Walter Reed neglect and certainly before Shinseski.

A single person becomes the fall guy for a systemic failure, the country wipes their hands clean while the GOP pats themselves on the back. “Mission Accomplished”. Nothing gets resolved and a person capable of making changes has been ousted. Rather than fixing the problem we’ve pointed fingers, rolled heads and moved on until the next time VA failure becomes an issue. Well done.