Boehner: Firing Shinseki won't fix problem

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Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is quickly becoming one of the only lawmakers on Capitol Hill who isn’t demanding Eric Shinseki’s resignation.

The Speaker on Thursday again declined to call for Shinseki to step down as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, despite a growing chorus from both Republicans and Democrats following the release of a damaging report for the agency’s inspector general.

“I’m going to continue to reserve judgment on General Shinseki,” Boehner said at a press conference following a meeting of the House GOP. “The question I ask myself is, is him resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem? Is it going to help us find out what’s really going on. And the answer I keep getting is no.”

Boehner has previously said Shinseki’s ouster and an ensuing search for his replacement could distract attention from what he has called a “systemic” failure at the VA.

The IG report released on Wednesday backed up allegations that a VA facility in Phoenix concealed a lengthy waiting list for veterans who needed healthcare treatment. Its findings led to more a dozen fresh calls for Shinseki’s resignation, including from several Democrats in the House and Senate.

“The real issue here is that the president is the one who should be held accountable,” Boehner said.

The Speaker stood alongside the third-ranking House Republican, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who has already called for Shinseki to go.

McCarthy said he and other House Republicans requested a report on VA wait times from the Government Accountability Office back in 2011, and he held up a letter he sent to Shinseki seeking a response to the report in 2013 and offering recommendations for action.

“They’ve known about it. They’ve ignored it,” McCarthy said.