By Rebecca Shabad - 05/30/14 12:15 PM EDT
Lawmakers and veterans groups applauded Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation on Friday, but emphasized it was only the first step in fixing the agency’s widespread issues.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tweeted that President Obama’s decision to accept Shinseki’s resignation was a “good move.”
President has accepted Sec. Shinseki's resignation. Good move. Now let's fix the problems. #VA— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 30, 2014
Flake and his colleague Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday called for Shinseki’s resignation after an interim inspector general report confirmed misconduct occurred at the VA hospital in Phoenix.
Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) agreed the decision to step down was the right move.
Shinseki offered his resignation to Obama in a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office Friday morning.
“With considerable regret, I accepted,” Obama said at a press conference from the White House briefing room following the meeting.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) praised Shinseki on Twitter but agreed the agency needed a new leader.
Secretary Shinseki served our country honorably, and I thank him for his service. It is time for a fresh pair of eyes on this calamity. -Joe— Senator Joe Donnelly (@SenDonnelly) May 30, 2014
The VA needs more than a leadership change, Donnelly said; it also needs a change in culture.
His resignation alone will not solve this problem, because this isn’t just about one man—it is about a culture change. –Joe— Senator Joe Donnelly (@SenDonnelly) May 30, 2014
Obama said he has named Sloan Gibson as acting secretary of the VA. He currently serves as a deputy secretary, and was confirmed by the Senate in February. Before his appointment, Gibson served as president and CEO of the United Services Organizations (USO). He is a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said the VA, however, shouldn't be led by someone already within the agency.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) urged Obama to permanently replace Shinseki with someone who fought in those wars.
We encourage the President to look for an Iraq or Afghanistan vet who will lead an aggressive turnaround of the VA. http://t.co/p77MOP3kQT— IAVA (@iava) May 30, 2014
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) appeared to downplay the significance of the news, and blamed Obama for the agency’s failures.
Republican Rep. Rick Crawford (Ark.) was less critical of Shinseki on Twitter, and commended his service.
I don't celebrate Gen. Shinseki's resignation. His service to our country should make us all proud & grateful. He did what needed to be done— Rep Rick Crawford (@RepRickCrawford) May 30, 2014
The American Legion, the largest veterans advocacy group and the first to call on Shinseki to resign, said the resignation doesn't solve everything.
Legion: Shinseki resignation the beginning, not the total solution. All incompetence/corruption needs weeded out. #VAaccountability— The American Legion (@AmericanLegion) May 30, 2014
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) was among the first Democrats to call for Shinseki to step down and tweeted that the next step is finding the root of the problem.
The VA Secretary has resigned. We need to keep digging down to rooting out these long term problems and move the VA forward.— David Scott (@repdavidscott) May 30, 2014
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said the resignation came too late.
The resignation of Secretary Eric Shinseki is coming too late for thousands of veterans who have been let down by the VA.— Shelley Moore Capito (@RepShelley) May 30, 2014