Wagner Statement on Shinseki Resignation

May 30, 2014
Press Release

(Washington, DC)  Today, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO) released the following statement after Eric Shinseki resigned as the Secretary of Veteran Affairs:

The Obama Administration has created a culture of failure.  This failure of basic governance has permeated throughout all of our federal agencies, resulting in unelected bureaucrats putting their own interests above the American people.  Secretary Shinseki resigned today not because President Obama required it, but because millions of outraged veterans and Americans demanded it.   While I commend Eric Shinseki’s service to our country, the atrocities unfolding at the VA demand new management and leadership.

“Our veterans deserve the highest level of care which they have earned through their valor and military service.  We need a new leader at the VA who will demand action and fix the problem independent of this incompetent administration.  Our veterans deserve action by integrating superior private sector care to get the treatment they earned through their sacrifices to a grateful nation.”


Background:

  • In 2013, President Obama promised to eliminate the VA backlog ‘once and for all.’  Yet the VA knew of these improper scheduling practices as early as 2010 and showed no leadership to remedy these egregious practices. The IG report this week showed that there is evidence of a ‘systemic’ failure in scheduling practices.  Additionally, the number of facilities now under investigation totals 42, including our own center in St. Louis regarding mental health care.  As a result, Rep. Wagner has serious concerns about the President’s competence to deliver the mission of providing timely services and superior care for our veterans. 
     
  • Last week, Congresswoman Wagner demanded Eric Shinseki’s resignation.
     
  • On May 21st, Rep. Wagner sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki regarding recent allegations that the St. Louis VA system created an ‘artificial backlog’ for treatment of veterans seeking mental health care.  The letter is in conjunction with the recently announced Veterans Health Administration Nation-wide Access Review.  It provides specific questions to Secretary Shinseki regarding these allegations in the VA St. Louis system relating to mental health care access, and requests full transparency into their system and guidelines pertaining to mental health care scheduling.
     
  • The House of Representatives passed the VA Management Accountability Act.  This legislation will give the Secretary of the VA more authority to remove and terminate employees who contribute to this agency’s culture of failure and lack of transparency.  However, Senator Harry Reid has refused to take up this legislation to bring accountability to the American people.