Pressure builds on Shinseki to resign

Pressure builds on Shinseki to resign
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Pressure built on Tuesday for Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiDem demands Trump provide potential death toll for war with North Korea House approves VA bill, sending it to Trump Senate backs bill making it easier to fire VA employees MORE to resign, with more outraged lawmakers calling for his head over charges his agency tried to cover up long wait times for VA appointments that resulted in deaths.

Three Republican senators called on Shinseki to resign, including Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Senate GOP running out of options to stop Moore Texas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request MORE (R-Texas), while Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTrump's pick for Federal Reserve chief is right choice at right time The two-party system is dying — let’s put it out of its misery One year later, neither party can get past last year's election MORE (R-Ohio) in a release heavily criticized the secretary for problems at the VA.

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“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,” Cornyn said in his statement.

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOvernight Cybersecurity: Kushner was contacted about WikiLeaks before election | Tech experts blast Trump's 'extreme vetting' plan | Senate passes defense bill with measure to modernize feds' IT Ensuring that defense agencies will have access to a community of entrepreneurs and innovators Provision to modernize federal IT in compromise defense bill MORE (R-Kan.), a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Energy: Chemical safety regulator's nomination at risk | Watchdog scolds Zinke on travel records | Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog Collins ‘leaning against’ Trump EPA chemical nominee MORE (R-N.C.), the VA committee’s ranking member, also called for Shinseki’s resignation. 

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.) appeared to support calls for Shinseki’s resignation.

“A change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction,” he said. 

This is far from the first time there have been calls for Shinseki’s resignation, who has come under repeated criticism for not doing enough to cut down on long wait times at VA facilities.

But it’s clear he now faces the biggest challenge to his tenure.

The new calls for his head came after allegations surfaced this week that clerks at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., were instructed last year to falsify appointment records so it appeared that the doctors were meeting the VA’s goals of seeing patients within 14 days. 

The revelation followed other allegations that surfaced last month that a VA clinic in Phoenix had placed some veterans on a secret wait list, also in order to obscure long appointment wait times — which a whistleblower said resulted in the deaths of more than 40 veterans. 

The VA has placed the Phoenix clinic administrator on leave and is conducting investigations into both cases. 

The allegations led the American Legion to call for Shinseki to resign. Another veterans group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, did not call for resignations but said Congress should probe the matter.

The White House defended Shinseki on Thursday.

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

Separately, White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement noted that President Obama had directed Shinseki to investigate allegations surrounding the Phoenix facility. The statement noted that Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General to conduct a review.

Several lawmakers have stopped short of calling for Shinseki’s resignation in a sign he might survive the battle.

“I do know he is a fine man, but you got to be accountable, so we’ll see,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock Graham on Moore: 'We are about to give away a seat' key to Trump's agenda Tax plans show Congress putting donors over voters MORE (R-S.C.). “He seems to be playing catch up, when it comes to day-to-day healthcare. … He’s going to have to up his game, that’s for sure.”

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Ad encourages GOP senator to vote 'no' on tax bill MORE (R-Ariz.) also stopped short of calling for Shinseki, a retired four-star Army general who was wounded while serving in Vietnam, to step down.  

“No, I think we need to complete the investigation. I’m obviously very unhappy, and the investigation needs to go on, but let us get through this investigation,” he said.