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Pressure builds on Shinseki to resign

Pressure builds on Shinseki to resign
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Pressure built on Tuesday for Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric ShinsekiEric Ken ShinsekiWhy aren't more Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Biden's Cabinet? Biden VA pick faces 'steep learning curve' at massive agency Biden nominee: VA staff hampered by 'mismanagement' MORE to resign, with more outraged lawmakers calling for his head over charges his agency tried to cover up long wait times for VA appointments that resulted in deaths.

Three Republican senators called on Shinseki to resign, including Senate Minority Whip John CornynJohn CornynProgressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die MORE (R-Texas), while Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE (R-Ohio) in a release heavily criticized the secretary for problems at the VA.

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“The president needs to find a new leader to lead this organization out of the wilderness, and back to providing the service our veterans deserve,” Cornyn said in his statement.

Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranDemocrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (R-Kan.), a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrBurr on 'unusual' Trump endorsement in NC Senate race: 'I can't tell you what motivates him' Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle MORE (R-N.C.), the VA committee’s ranking member, also called for Shinseki’s resignation. 

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats go down to the wire with Manchin Schumer unloads on GOP over elections bill: 'How despicable of a man is Donald Trump?' This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-Ky.) appeared to support calls for Shinseki’s resignation.

“A change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction,” he said. 

This is far from the first time there have been calls for Shinseki’s resignation, who has come under repeated criticism for not doing enough to cut down on long wait times at VA facilities.

But it’s clear he now faces the biggest challenge to his tenure.

The new calls for his head came after allegations surfaced this week that clerks at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Fort Collins, Colo., were instructed last year to falsify appointment records so it appeared that the doctors were meeting the VA’s goals of seeing patients within 14 days. 

The revelation followed other allegations that surfaced last month that a VA clinic in Phoenix had placed some veterans on a secret wait list, also in order to obscure long appointment wait times — which a whistleblower said resulted in the deaths of more than 40 veterans. 

The VA has placed the Phoenix clinic administrator on leave and is conducting investigations into both cases. 

The allegations led the American Legion to call for Shinseki to resign. Another veterans group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, did not call for resignations but said Congress should probe the matter.

The White House defended Shinseki on Thursday.

“The president remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. 

Separately, White House spokesman Shin Inouye in a statement noted that President Obama had directed Shinseki to investigate allegations surrounding the Phoenix facility. The statement noted that Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General to conduct a review.

Several lawmakers have stopped short of calling for Shinseki’s resignation in a sign he might survive the battle.

“I do know he is a fine man, but you got to be accountable, so we’ll see,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Equilibrium — Presented by NextEra Energy — Tasmanian devil wipes out penguin population The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden support, gas tax questions remain on infrastructure This week: Senate set for voting rights fight MORE (R-S.C.). “He seems to be playing catch up, when it comes to day-to-day healthcare. … He’s going to have to up his game, that’s for sure.”

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHeatwaves don't lie: Telling the truth about climate change Overnight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West MORE (R-Ariz.) also stopped short of calling for Shinseki, a retired four-star Army general who was wounded while serving in Vietnam, to step down.  

“No, I think we need to complete the investigation. I’m obviously very unhappy, and the investigation needs to go on, but let us get through this investigation,” he said.