House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on Thursday became the first Republican leader to call on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, amid a brewing scandal involving dozens of veteran deaths while waiting for medical care.
He made his position known in a lengthy statement, saying he has received “countless complaints from my constituents of extended wait times and delayed benefits claims at the VA in Los Angeles” and that he offered legislation last October to “address these abhorrent failings in the VA.” He allowed that the failings “are not new.”
“General Shinseki, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, has served his country with honor and integrity. No one doubts his dedication to our nation’s veterans. However, the current state of the VA is wholly unacceptable and has become a national embarrassment – it requires immediate action,” McCarthy said. “I believe new leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs is imperative to fixing the wrong that this massive bureaucracy has done to the men and women we owe so much to. Therefore, today, I call on General Shinseki to do what is right and step aside as Secretary effective immediately.”
President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders are standing by Shinseki, who has said he’s committed to fixing the problem and is “mad as hell” about the allegations that VA officials sought to cover up long waiting list.