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ND delegation calls for VA secretary’s resignation

Reuters Photo U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses reporters after testifying before a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on VA health care on May 15 in Washington.

FARGO — Members of the North Dakota and Minnesota congressional delegations are among those calling for the embattled Veterans Affairs secretary to resign.

Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., all have called upon Eric Shinseki to resign in the aftermath of a critical report involving systemic problems and long waits for many veterans.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., stopped short of calling for Shinseki’s resignation, but called the report “disturbing” and problems it identified “unacceptable.”

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., also called for Shinseki to resign, reflecting the growing, bipartisan drumbeat for him to step down.

Although Shinseki is not solely to blame, and his removal will not solve all the problems, he should go because he has misled Congress and failed to solve problems identified in an earlier report, Cramer said.

“The Inspector General’s report is so troubling that I have come to the conclusion that the Department of Veterans Affairs needs new leadership,” Franken said in a statement. “I believe it would be in the best interest of veterans for Secretary Shinseki to step down.”

That view was echoed by Hoeven, who met Thursday with VA officials in Fargo.

“Gen. Shinseki has served the country well, but I really do think it’s time for a change,” he said.

Klobuchar said she was troubled that the VA was not better able to identify and solve the problems, and added, “I believe that the department needs new leadership in order to gain back the trust of our veterans and solve these serious problems.”

Peterson said: “I have come to the conclusion that there needs to be accountability and new leadership, and the best step forward is for the secretary to offer his resignation so we can start fixing the problems where they exist. We have to do better by our veterans.”

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