House races

First Dems call for VA chief to resign

Greg Nash

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Rep. John Barrow (Ga.) called on embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, making him the first Democrat in Congress to do so. He was quickly joined by Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), who said he was “very disappointed” with President Obama’s handling of the situation.

{mosads}”Unfortunately, this administration has fallen short in providing the kind of care that our veterans have earned. While I don’t think a change in leadership will immediately solve the serious problems that plague the VA, I do think it’s time to give someone else an opportunity to lead the agency and begin the rebuilding process to ensure these issues never happen again,” Barrow said in a statement. “Secretary Shinseki deserves the utmost respect for his service, but it’s time for someone new to get to the bottom of what’s happened on his watch.”

“The first person we need to fire is the secretary of Veterans Affairs,” Scott said Wednesday on the House floor. “We respect him, we respect his sacrifice for his country and everything else, but the buck stops at the top.”

Scott went on to criticize the president.

“I listened to the president today, and I was very disappointed with President Obama today. There was no urgency. Mr. President, we need urgency.”

The Georgia Democrats’ call is a break with most congressional liberals, many of whom have stood by Shinseki while calling for a major re-examination of how the VA is handling its affairs following accusations of secret waitlists at VA hospitals and delayed care for veterans.

The call from within the president’s own party could increase pressure on the White House. Obama said in a statement this morning after meeting with Shinseki that, “If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it.” 

Barrow, a centrist Democrat, has long bucked party leaders, one of the reasons he’s managed to survive as the only white Democrat in the Deep South despite being a perennial GOP target. President Obama lost Barrow’s district by a 12-point margin in 2012. If he wins reelection, he would likely represent the most Republican district in the country held by a Democrat.

Scott represents a safely Democratic seat with a high number of military veterans.

The two aren’t the only Democrats calling for Shinseki’s head, and are unlikely to be the last.

Former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays, who’s running for Congress in a Republican-leaning district, issued a statement Wednesday saying President Obama should have “demanded the immediate resignation” of Shinseki.

This post was last updated at 2:05 p.m.

Tags Eric Shinseki John Barrow
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