White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday said President Obama “remains confident” in Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, despite calls for his resignation following a backlog of disability claims and a series of deaths at VA hospitals.
“We must ensure that our nation's veterans get the benefits and the services that they deserve and they have earned,” Carney said in his daily briefing with reporters. “The president remains confident in Secretary Shinseki's ability to lead the department and to take appropriate action based on the IG's findings.”
The Arizona Republic reported allegations last week that hospital administrators in Phoenix destroyed records to cover up incriminating waiting lists for medical care.
“As the president said last week, we take the allegations around the Phoenix situation very seriously,” Carney added. “That's why he immediately directed Secretary Shinseki to investigate and Secretary Shinseki has also invited the independent Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General to conduct a comprehensive review.”
However, calls for Shinseki's ouster have intensified on Capitol Hill, and the controversy is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. The American Legion and other veterans groups also said this week that Shinseki should resign.
The Washington Examiner reported last week that more than 1.5 million medical orders were destroyed without proof that patients received medical care. Another Examiner investigation found that medical appointments were purged at facilities in Los Angeles and Dallas to make the backlogs there look smaller.
However, the administration continues to back Shinseki in the face of another controversy for the beleaguered agency.
“Secretary Shinseki has dedicated his life to his fellow veterans, and nobody is more committed to completing the work that lies ahead," VA spokesman Drew Brookie said Monday.
"As the secretary says, providing veterans the quality care and benefits they have earned through their service is our only mission at VA," he added.