Lawmakers, vets groups: Shinseki resignation only first step to VA fix

 

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.”

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.

The VA needs more than a leadership change, Donnelly said; it also needs a change in culture.

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.

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.

The American Legion, the largest veterans advocacy group and the first to call on Shinseki to resign, said the resignation doesn't solve everything.

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.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said the resignation came too late.