- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico called for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign Thursday, becoming the first Senate Democrat not up for re-election this year to do so.

A flurry of lawmakers called for Mr. Shinseki to step down Wednesday, after the VA inspector general released a report that showed 1,700 veterans were never placed on official wait lists at a Phoenix VA facility, meaning their wait times could not be measured and they may get lost in the system, never getting to see a doctor.

“I have a mountain of respect for what General Shinseki has done in service to our country, but our nation’s veterans deserve nothing less than the very best service our nation has to offer,” Mr. Heinrich wrote.

He became the seventh Democrat in the Senate to call for Mr. Shinseki’s resignation, going against the president who has so far defended the secretary. The others — who are all facing tough re-election bids — are: Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota; Kay Hagan of North Carolina; Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire; Mark Udall of Colorado; John Walsh of Montana; and Mark Warner of Virginia.

House Republicans, however, are asking senators to do more than just ask Mr. Shinseki to step down. Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, called on senators Thursday to pass the VA Accountability Act, which would make it easier for top officials at the VA to be fired.

The act passed the House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 390-33 vote last week.

While Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said it’s time for the Senate to act, he did not join the growing chorus calling for the secretary’s head.

“We must remember this is about more than one man. This is about millions of veterans they deserve more accountability than one resignation,” he said.