Shinseki resigns over growing VA scandal
President Obama announced Friday that embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki would take the fall for the rapidly growing scandal over veterans’ health care, accepting his resignation under pressure from members of both parties.
“A few minutes ago, Secretary Shinseki offered me his own resignation,” Obama said, after meeting with Shinseki at the White House. “With considerable regret, I accepted.”
The president announced that Shinseki would resign after he received an update on an internal review of the problems at the VA. The review showed the problems were not limited to just a few facilities, he said, adding: “It’s totally unacceptable. Our veterans deserve the best.”
He said Shinseki told him he did not want to be a distraction.
“I agree,” Obama said. “We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem.”
The president, who for weeks stood by Shinseki as the allegations of wrongdoing mounted, said it was Shinseki’s own judgment that he’d be a distraction that changed his mind. The president said Sloan Gibson, deputy VA secretary, would be named acting VA secretary while the administration seeks a permanent replacement.
The president had faced mounting calls from members of both parties to remove Shinseki. Shinseki suffered another blow on Friday when Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a former top VA official, called for her former boss’ resignation.
Congressional critics of VA leadership voiced support for the decision on Friday, though urged the administration to quickly get to the root of the problems with VA workers lying about patient wait times.
“VA’s problems are deadly serious, and whomever the next secretary may be, they will receive no grace period from America’s veterans, American taxpayers and Congress,” Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
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