Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on Friday became the latest Democrat on Capitol Hill to call for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, her former boss at the embattled department.
Duckworth, who lost both her legs on a combat mission during the Iraq War, made her comments to the Washington Post.
“Our first priority should be the veterans and at this point whether Secretary Shinseki will stay or go is too much of a distraction,” the congresswoman said. “I think he has to go. He certainly loves veterans, but it’s time for new leadership, it’s time to get someone in who will put veterans first. We’ve moved away from veterans being the primacy of the conversation. It’s now a political discussion and that’s now where it should be when it comes to our nation’s heroes.”
Duckworth, who served as an assistant secretary for public affairs and intergovernmental relations at the VA before she was elected to Congress in 2012, said she reached those conclusions after reading the Inspector General’s damning report on wait times at the veterans hospital in Phoenix.
It’s yet another political blow for Shinseki, whose future at the department has grown increasingly uncertain. Democrats have abandoned him in droves this week following the release of the report. As of Thursday, 11 Democratic senators had called for his resignation.
Shinseki is slated to meet with President Obama on Friday.