Jackie McPherson of Heber Springs, the Democratic candidate for 1st District Congress, has joined a growing list of candidates and officeholders who say Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should resign over problems in the veterans health care system. Pat Hays, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District, called for this last week.
Republicans are busy making this a campaign issue against Sen. Mark Pryor, who’s defended his actions seeking changes in the VA system, but who so far been silent on the fate of Shinseki even as a growing number of Democrats have joined in resignation calls. McPherson’s release said:
“The health and well-being of veterans who have served this country must be our first priority. General Shinseki has served his country honorably, and we thank him for his service, but we cannot ignore the systematic failures of the VA’s health system. Our veterans deserve better. It is time for him to move on. I hope Congress will use this opportunity to take a deeper look at how we deliver services to our veterans and come together to ensure that all of our veterans have access to top-quality health care.”
UPDATE I: Fox 16’s David Goins got a comment from Sen. Pryor on the issue.
Senator Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, said Thursday he is not calling for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign yet, saying “I’m looking closely at everything” in regards to the unfolding VA scandal.
Pryor said Thursday he is “pretty mad” and “outraged” about the revelations over the last several weeks.
“In terms of Shenseki’s resignation, my view on that is not yet, I’m not going to call for that yet,” Pryor says. “There’s an interim report right now, there’s more to follow sometime in the next couple weeks, I’m not quite sure exactly when the final report comes out, but I have a lot of questions about what he knew.”
UPDATE II: The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee is blasting Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s challenging Pryor, for budget votes that were damaging to veterans and for politicizing the crisis despite criticism of the tactics from another Republican. Said their release:
Tom Cotton is now politicizing the horrible crisis at the Veterans Administration for his own personal political gain, but it is Cotton that has consistently put his reckless ideology and own political ambition ahead of veterans. Cotton voted against additional funding for the Veterans Administration to hire additional claims processors to address the backlog and he supported the ideological Republican Study Committee budget that would cut benefits for retired and disabled veterans in order to cut taxes for corporations and millionaires.
Now Cotton’s own Republican colleague has suggested he has gone too far. The Hill reports that “the Republican chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Jeff Miller (Fla.), said Wednesday it was not appropriate for Crossroads GPS, a conservative group, to use the Veterans Affairs controversy in ads” just like Cotton is doing.