Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan is calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation amid a scandal that has embroiled the agency tasked with caring for the nation’s veterans.
Nolan is one of the few congressional Democrats demanding Shinseki’s ouster.
President Obama and most other members of his party have stood by Shinseki as claims mount that dozens of veterans died while waiting months for medical care and that VA employees engaged in a cover-up to conceal the treatment delays.
“These issues did not begin with Secretary Shinseki, but he’s had six years to fix the problems that plague this agency, and it’s highly unlikely that any more time will make a difference,” Nolan said Friday afternoon.
In a statement, Nolan said he wants GOP House Speaker John Boehner to establish a special committee to probe the allegations of mismanagement, fraud and abuse at the agency.
Shinseki has attempted to stay ahead of the scandal, promising a full investigation into allegations that veterans died at an Arizona VA facility while waiting for care. That probe has expanded to include 26 VA facilities.
But action hasn’t come fast enough for Nolan, who’s faced pressure from the national GOP for not speaking out about the scandal until now. Republican Stewart Mills III, who is challenging Nolan in the Eighth Congressional District, called for Shinseki’s firing Thursday.
“He has had ample time to fix the serious issues in the Department and he has either failed to do so or been unaware of the problems. Regardless of which is the case, it’s time for new leadership in the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Mills said.
In his statement Friday, Nolan dismissed the Republican criticism as “disingenuous.”
“I find it somewhat disingenuous that many of the same Republicans who voted down our measure to double the number of personnel necessary to alleviate the backlog in disability claims are now shouting the loudest about the failure to address that same backlog,” Nolan said.
“It’s reminiscent of how they shut down the government and then complained about the national parks being closed.”