Eric Shinseki apologizes for "systemic" VA hospital problems
Embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki apologized for "systemic" problems at the nation's VA hospitals and, despite calls for his resignation, pressed forward with actions to deal with the scandal.
Shinseki announced during a speech to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans in Washington, D.C., that he has initiated the process to remove the leaders of the Phoenix VA medical center, where it's alleged as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care. An investigation released Wednesday found that about 1,700 veterans in need of care were "at risk of being lost or forgotten" after being kept off an official waiting list .
Meanwhile, President Obama summoned Shinseki to the White House, amid mounting calls for his resignation.
In a interview aired Friday on "Live! With Kelly and Micahel", Mr. Obama said he will ask Shinseki whether he is "prepared and has the capacity" to fix sweeping problems in the system.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that "When it comes to the overall issue... we are focused on getting to the root of the problem and determining the full scope of the problem."
When asked whether Mr. Obama still has confidence in Shinseki, Carney would not give a simple yes or no answer, but said, "The president believes and is confident Secretary Shineski has served his nation admirably... [and] he has accomplished some very important things as secretary of Veterans Affairs" such as they include extending education benefits and reducing veteran homelessness.
Fourteen Senate Republicans along with 12 Senate Democrats aren't waiting for the audit and have called on Shinseki to step down, including nine Democrats who are up for re-election this November, some of whom have been targets of recent Republican attacks over the VA issue.