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VA Secretary Shinseki Resigns Amid Calls For Him To Step Down

UPDATE 8:21 a.m. PT: President Barack Obama announces Secretary of Veterans Affairs Department Eric Shinseki has resigned.

The Associated Press reports:

President Barack Obama says he accepted the resignation with "considerable regret." He and Shinseki met in the Oval Office on Friday morning.

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.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, called Wednesday for the resignation of Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki following revelations that about 1,700 veterans seeking care were not on any waiting list at the troubled VA hospital in Phoenix.

Allegations have been swirling for weeks that as many as 40 VA patients were never put on a waiting list and may have died at the Phoenix hospital while awaiting care. Richard Griffin, inspector general for the VA, has said he has reviewed 17 of those cases and found none of the deaths were tied to delays in care.

If Shinseki doesn't step down, President Barack Obama should fire the former Army general, Peters said.

"For too long, the VA has been steeped in complacency and mismanagement — that has to end today and the change must begin at the top,'' Peters said. "While General Shinseki's service to his country is unquestioned, the failure to make necessary changes cannot continue.''

In a tweet, candidate for California's 52nd Congressional seat Carl DeMaio calls for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, May 21, 2014.

Peters issued the statement about a week after one of his primary election opponents, former city councilman and onetime San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, made a similar call.

In a release posted on his website, DeMaio said:

"It's evident that Secretary Shinseki does not possess the ability to lead the VA in such a way that any member of the military or their family members can have confidence that they will be treated. The idea that even one veteran — let alone 40 — may have died as a result of having to wait inappropriate lengths to receive treatment is abhorrent and should not be tolerated or excused."

DeMaio's rival, Peters, recently voted in favor of a bill that would give the VA secretary more flexibility over the employment status of senior executives. He had stopped short of calling for Shinseki to step down until Wednesday.

"Our veterans and I have lost confidence in the secretary's ability to lead this deeply troubled institution,'' Peters said. "While I feel strongly that the changes needed are much bigger than just firing one person, this is the right start.''

The congressman said many more changes in the VA will be needed in the future, including rooting out managers who allowed unacceptable practices to occur. Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of Alpine has also called on the secretary to resign.

The president has stood by Shinseki so far. A federal investigation is underway at 42 VA medical facilities, up from 26, but not the one in San Diego.

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