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Posted at 5:38 p.m. on May 29, 2014
Rep. Steve Israel of New York is the first member of House Democratic leadership to call for the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made his sentiments public during a CNN interview Thursday afternoon.
Shortly thereafter, Israel released an email statement to CQ Roll Call explaining his rationale.
“If it will help fix the problem to clean house, then yes, he should resign,” Israel said, “but my main concern is getting the root of the problem here, and I want to make sure any steps taken actually lead to drastic improvements for our veterans.”
Earlier in the day, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters during her weekly news conference that it was premature for Shinseki to step down. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., have also not yet joined their colleague, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in calling for the VA secretary’s resignation. And the White House is signaling support for Shinseki to stick around, at least for the time being.
But calls for Shinseki’s head have been mounting this week in light of the scandal over poor care and manipulated wait times for prospective patients at VA hospitals, particularly after the release of a damning report from the agency’s inspector general.
By Thursday afternoon, the number of members calling for his resignation were climbing toward the 100 mark, according to an ongoing whip count from National Journal.