WASHINGTON, DC -- Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) Thursday joined the growing list of lawmakers calling for the resignation of Veterans Affairs chief Gen. Eric Shinseki.
"Gen. Shinseki has served our country with distinction. I now believe he should step aside in order to allow our focus and our efforts to be on making the critically needed changes to fix the VA," Warner said.
Other Democratic senators, North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Al Franken (D-Minn.), Mark Udall of Colorado, Ron Barber of Arizona and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire have called for Shinseki to leave.
A watchdog's report found systemic problems at the VA nationwide. The report said about 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off the official waiting list at the Phoenix VA hospital.
“The latest revelations, including widespread falsification of records, demonstrate the systemic nature of the problem and that efforts to solve it have not been successful." Kaine said.
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the growing scandal surrounding delayed medical care for sick veterans leading to deaths at VA hospitals "makes me sick to my stomach". But he's stopped short of calling for Shinseki to leave.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
SEN. WARNER'S STATEMENT:
“Like most Americans, I am outraged about how our veterans are being treated. The preliminary Inspector General’s report shows this is a systemic problem that dates back many years. We have to fix the system now.
“The controversy over Gen. Shinseki's leadership has taken attention away from the real issue - the need for swift, decisive action to reform the VA, change its culture, and ensure that we provide quality, timely services for our veterans.
“Gen. Shinseki has served our country with distinction. I now believe he should step aside in order to allow our focus and our efforts to be on making the critically needed changes to fix the VA.
“No one has pushed the VA harder than me: we pressed them to broaden PTSD services for female veterans. We pushed them on the claims backlog. It took us more than a year to get the VA to adopt the William & Mary law school’s pro bono model, which helps veterans with some of the toughest disability claims. That Virginia model is now being expanded to 15 other law schools across the country.
“It is important that we provide Virginia's veterans with the services they have earned - and which we as a nation have committed to provide.”
SEN. KAINE'S STATEMENT:
"Congress and our veterans have been calling for dramatic action to end waiting times for years. Despite assurances from VA leadership that the issue is being addressed and improved, the latest revelations, including widespread falsification of records, demonstrate the systemic nature of the problem and that efforts to solve it have not been successful. I believe the only way to regain the confidence of our veterans and the public that we will solve this problem and provide the VA services that veterans are entitled to in a prompt, efficient and compassionate way is for the President to select new leadership of this critical agency."