Both Democrats and Republicans on Friday quickly praised President Obama's decision to accept the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki as the right call, but most added that it is only an initial step toward fixing the VA's problems.
Here's a sampling of what members of both parties are saying:
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.): "Everybody knows Eric Shinseki is an honorable man whose dedication to our country is beyond reproach. I thank him for his legacy of service to our nation. Unfortunately, Shinseki's tenure at the Department of Veterans Affairs will forever be tainted by a pervasive lack of accountability among poorly performing VA employees and managers, apparent widespread corruption among medical center officials and an unparalleled lack of transparency with Congress, the public and the press. ... Right now, VA needs a leader who will take swift and decisive action to discipline employees responsible for mismanagement, negligence and corruption that harms veterans while taking bold steps to replace the department’s culture of complacency with a climate of accountability."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus: "While we are eager to see the President finally engaging on this issue, this has never been about a single person or a single resignation. We now know that thousands of veterans haven't gotten the treatment they were owed, languished on false wait lists, and were simply denied access to care when it was inconvenient—all so this administration could pretend they were reducing wait times. We also know those within the President's administration were rewarded—given thousands of taxpayer dollars in bonuses—and that the administration has known about issues at the VA for years."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): " This change of leadership is a meaningful initial step to meet our solemn obligations, but what’s still needed is an agreement by the President and his allies in Congress to join Republicans in legislation that would help to fix this system that has so failed our veterans."
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.): "After weeks of muted reactions and tepid responses, I’m glad to see the President and Sec. Shinseki have heeded our calls for new leadership at the VA. As a decorated service member, Sec. Shinseki served his country well but his time at the VA has been marked by gross inefficiencies and mismanagement. President Obama must quickly nominate someone from outside the broken bureaucracy of the VA to implement immediate changes focused on providing our veterans with the care they deserve."
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): "Secretary Shinseki’s resignation is just the first step in addressing the institutional neglect of veterans at the VA, but that alone won’t solve the problem. The systemic mismanagement will continue unless we bring reform to the VA and hold all those who are responsible accountable."
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.): "Regardless of who replaces Secretary Shinseki, the issues throughout the VA will not go away without a dedicated and unrelenting approach to fixing them. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to address issues such as the crippling backlog in benefits claims, veterans' access to the services they need, and quality care across-the-board."
Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.):
VA Sec. Shinseki's resignation was a necessary first step so we can address systemic failures and ensure our veterans get care they deserve.
— John Kline (@repjohnkline) May 30, 2014
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): "Eric Shinseki has served our country for decades, on the battlefield, as Chief of Staff for the United States Army and as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is a good man and should be commended for his admirable service. The VA has fired senior officials at the Phoenix facility and has pledged to personally contact every veteran in Phoenix waiting for appointments. This is a good first step."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): "The departure of Secretary Shinseki will not solve the systemic challenges within the VA and its medical facilities. It is up to all of us – in Congress and in the Administration – to review the facts, fix the problems, and improve our efforts to ensure veterans receive the care they need, when they need it."
Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.): "His decision today will allow us to move forward with the necessary top-to-bottom overhaul of the Veterans Health Administration’s systems and practices. We must work together to find solutions to the problems facing the VA, to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, and that we provide the best care for our veterans when they need it."
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.): "His resignation alone will not solve this problem, because this isn’t just about one man—it is about a culture change. We need to hold accountable those who were carrying out or encouraging these practices day to day, and we must ensure that the VA health system provides the responsiveness and quality care our veterans deserve."
Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.): "Secretary Shinseki has taken responsibility for these failures, and his resignation provides an opportunity for new leadership to begin to address widespread mismanagement in the VA system and take swift corrective action. I thank Secretary Shinseki for his service to our nation, and I wish him the best."
Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.): "I had the honor of meeting one-on-one with now Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson last week in my office in Washington to discuss the issues at the VA. From our meeting, I found him to be extremely engaged and rightfully frustrated at the situation that has unfolded. I will remain in contact with Acting Secretary Gibson to ensure that we identify how these problems started, and to ensure that they never happen again. We owe that to the veterans who’ve given so much to our country."
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.):
The VA Secretary has resigned. We need to keep digging down to rooting out these long term problems and move the VA forward.
— David Scott (@repdavidscott) May 30, 2014