Obama Announces Eric Shinseki’s Resignation (Updated) (Video)
Updated 11:53 a.m. | President Barack Obama announced Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation Friday morning, following numerous calls from Congress for new leadership in the wake of the VA scandal.
Shinseki offered his resignation Friday morning, Obama announced in an impromptu press conference at the White House.
“With considerable regret, I accepted it,” the president said.
Obama named Sloan D. Gibson the acting secretary, and he said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors would stay at the department to aid in the transition and continue his report on the VA for the president. Obama said he wants to name a new VA secretary quickly, and vowed to do what it takes to serve veterans.
“It was Rick’s judgment that he could not carry out the next stages of reform without being a distraction himself,” Obama said of Shinseki. Obama said he agreed. “We don’t have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem.”
Explaining why he accepted the resignation, Obama said he wants someone spending all of their time focused on making sure veterans are getting the care they need and acknowledged the political distractions regarding Shinseki.
Numerous lawmakers have called on Shinseki to go, including many Democrats facing tough reelection races this year.
Obama said he did not accept Kathleen Sebelius’ offer to resign last year after the botched launch of Healthcare.gov because he thought it would have been a distraction to fixing the problem.
Obama also said that he may ask Congress for more money for the VA budget, but before spending more money, the VA needs to fix its management problems.
Gibson, meanwhile, was only confirmed as a deputy secretary in February, presumably helping to keep him from the taint of having the wait list problems fester on his watch.
Obama said that fixing the wait list problems “isn’t rocket science” and said it will be solved.
But he said that the VA may need more doctors and nurses and other resources to provide the care veterans need.
Obama also repeatedly praised “Rick” Shinseki’s long career of service, but the president appeared angry that a major scandal hurting veterans had blown up on his watch.
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