WASHINGTON (AP) — Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned amid widespread troubles in the VA health care system.
President Barack Obama says he accepted the resignation with "considerable regret." He and Shinseki met in the Oval Office on Friday morning.
Shinseki had faced mounting calls to step down from lawmakers in both parties.
Shinseki's resignation comes two days after a scathing internal report found broad and deep-seated problems in the sprawling health care system. The system provides care to about 6.5 million veterans annually.
Shinseki is a retired four-star Army general who has overseen the VA since the start of Obama's presidency.
Senator Jerry Moran issued the following statement on the resignation:
“Leadership matters; Calling for Secretary Shinseki’s resignation did not come lightly to me, but accountability starts at the top and the step taken today is just the beginning,” Sen. Moran, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said. “We now need accountability and true reform within the VA all across the country. For this to occur, we need a fresh perspective and a leader who is willing to shake up the VA’s bureaucratic culture. I believe this individual should not come from within the current dysfunctional system that is failing our veterans. I hope the President is willing to give veterans an individual they can trust to take the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in a new direction, and give veterans hope that the VA can move beyond its failures and provide them with the care they earned and deserve. We should not rest until our veterans have a Department of Veterans Affairs worthy of their service and sacrifice.”
Congressman Mike Pompeo issued the following statement:
"General Shinseki has served this nation honorably for many years. However, one of the worst instances of friendly fire in recent memory, the VA scandal, has occurred under his watch. Given the recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General substantiating the claims of secret waiting lists used to help VA employees receive bonuses, as well as the report's conclusion that 'inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic throughout' the VA system, it is time for him to step down. The culture that allowed these abuses to take place, unnoticed, for so long must be rooted out. These veterans have served our country, and yet they have been poorly served in return. We must do better."
Congressman Tim Huelskamp issued the following statement:
“It’s about time. It’s about time. However, veterans are dead or dying because of Shinseki’s failures, yet President Obama offers a verbal ‘Presidential Medal of Honor’ on behalf of Shinseki. This statement, this action, this VA scandal typifies what is replicated across this entire Administration–a culture of incompetence and non-accountability. We have seen this not only at the VA, but in the failed ObamaCare rollout, the IRS scandal, the Benghazi scandal, and numerous others.
“Enough talk, Mr. President, about this VA scandal–it is time to allow the creation of a truly independent VA Reform Commission to institute real veteran-centered changes. In the meantime, I call upon you to begin instituting immediately a workable Veteran Choice program that allows our brave men and women the choice to receive their care outside the VA and in the their local community.”
President Barack Obama is summoning VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to the White House Friday morning.
The meeting comes amid mounting calls for the embattled Shinseki to resign. There are widespread allegations of treatment delays at VA hospitals around the country. Shinseki is expected to give the president an update on a review he has been conducting.
President Obama says in a television interviews aired Thursday that he plans to have a "serious conversation" with Shinseki about whether he is prepared to fix the problems.