Ranking Dem calls VA report 'deeply troubling'

Anne Wernikoff

Rep. Adam SmithAdam SmithGOP: Congress should study the draft before adding women Key Dem to oppose defense bill House panel kills LGBT effort on defense bill MORE, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said he was troubled by a Veterans Affairs inspector general report on healthcare, but he did not join those calling for VA Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric ShinsekiVeterans group blasts VA secretary, despite words of regret Cruz: VA secretary 'should resign' VA secretary refuses to apologize for Disney comments MORE to resign.

“The report released yesterday is deeply troubling," Smith (D-Wash.) wrote to The Hill in a Thursday email.

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The Wednesday report confirmed allegations that 1,700 veterans were placed on an unofficial wait list at a Phoenix facility and that veterans there waited an average of 115 days for a primary care appointment. The report also called the inappropriate scheduling practices "systemic."

While Smith refrained from adding his name to the growing list of Democratic lawmakers calling for Shinseki's resignation, he urged the White House to address the issue swiftly.

"We owe it to our veterans to do much better, and the administration must do whatever is necessary to address the immediate problems and establish long-term accountability," he said. "I will continue to closely monitor this issue.”

So far, more than 50 Republican lawmakers and 10 Republican senators are calling for Shinseki to resign.

More than 20 Democratic lawmakers have issued calls for his resignation. Since Wednesday, seven Democratic senators joined those voices — including some who are facing tough reelection campaigns in the fall.

Smith has a November opponent himself, but sits in a solidly Democratic district and is not expected to face a serious challenge.