WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned Friday days after a report critical of overly-long wait times at VA clinics around the country.
More than a hundred members of Congress called on Shinseki to resign, many after the Wednesday release of a report on VA clinic wait times in Phoenix and around the county. After Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Erik Paulsen called on him to step down on Thursday, eight members of the Minnesota delegation — all except Reps. Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison — were on the record calling for his resignation.
Shinseki said earlier Friday that he would fire top officials at a VA clinic in Phoenix, where the wait time controversy first came to light, and he apologized the problems and promised to continue investigating them. He later met with Obama and offered his own resignation, and “with considerable regret, I accept it,” Obama said.
The calls for Shinseki’s resignation came in at a torrential pace on Wednesday and Thursday, and even his supporters said a Veterans Affairs inspector general’s report was enough to warrant Shinseki losing his job. Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, for one, said last week that he wasn’t ready to ask for Shinseki to resign, but he did just that after the report went public.
“As a military person, I know changes in leadership change the tone about where things are going,” Walz told MSNBC before Shinseki’s resignation Friday. “So Secretary Shinseki has done honorable work, the suggestions he is making are right, but I can tell you the trust among the veteran community has been damaged.”
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