Support for Shinseki holding for now among Senate Democrats
May 19th, 2014
06:42 PM ET
9 years ago

Support for Shinseki holding for now among Senate Democrats

(CNN) - Despite mounting calls from congressional Republicans for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign following the escalating scandal at his department, support among Senate Democrats appears to be holding for now, according to several senior Senate Democratic aides.

The aides, who asked not to be identified discussing how Democrats are generally responding to the issue, agreed the embattled Cabinet official needs to take bold steps to show he is dealing with the problem.

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“I thinks it’s still solid but members will want to see him continuing to take aggressive action to fix the problem,” said one aide. “The general attitude seems to be that he can keep the job as long as he can show that he is doing everything he can to fix the problem.”

Shinseki is under fire over allegations VA workers manipulated waiting lists to cover up long delays for veterans seeking health care.

Last month, CNN revealed that at least 40 veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, according to sources inside the hospital and a doctor who worked there.

The agency’s inspector general is investigating.

While a handful of Republicans have called for Shinseki to go – including John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican and Richard Burr of North Carolina, the top Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee - congressional Democrats have held off.

In fact, since other influential GOP lawmakers – like House Speaker John Boehner Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona – have not pushed for Shinseki to step down, Democrats are under less pressure to do so, according to one of the aides.

“Members will, of course, look at the results that come in for the investigations,” the aide said. “Our members have been tough on the mismanagement so it’s not as if they’re defending the VA offices.”

Democrats are, for now, standing by the administration as it weathers a crisis. But Democrats are also holding off on calling for Shinseki to go because they don’t have a clear sense that a change at the top would make a major difference in how the department handles the matter, one aide said.

Many Republicans say problems at the VA speak to broader management issues in the Obama administration. One of the Democratic aides warned the GOP not to try to take political advantage of the situation.

“If Republicans use this to attack Democrats, it will backfire as them playing politics with a very serious issue,” the aide said.

Filed under: Senate Democrats • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. The don

    Dems could care less about vets.

    May 19, 2014 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. Thomas

    Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is an honorable man !

    May 19, 2014 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Name

    Need someone that's gonna do more than keep the status quo heading a department as damaged as the VA.

    May 19, 2014 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. Name

    How do you defend this man?

    May 19, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. tim

    I don't think its an attack on the Democrats, its more that Republicans are the only ones that care enough to do something about it. This so called president and the rest of his party won't do a damn thing about it. And I really don't care how much money he threw at the VA that money sure as hell don't go to help us, it gets spent on bonuses and furniture and remodeling, that sure isn't helping us.

    May 19, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  6. smith1

    repo don't really care about the vets . this is like Benghazi as long as they can trash a presidential appointment they are happy. Let's see if they try and raise campaign money from this too'

    May 19, 2014 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  7. ProudDem

    Fire the guy who these offices were fudging their records to keep their bad numbers FROM....makes perfect sense GOP

    May 20, 2014 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  8. Pamma

    The general needs to go. If he were still in the army, he would have been fired. The commander is responsible .

    May 20, 2014 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  9. Ted McC

    How soon we forget. I was inpatient after the close of the Vietnam war, its the same situation. In 1975 the VA was a mess both financially, medically and morally. It was a disgrace, the only difference was in 1975 people didnt care about our veterans, so it wasn't news. Do some research, this is not new, just forgotten. The fix...properly fund the VA and the veterans who supported us.

    May 20, 2014 07:46 am at 7:46 am |