Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki over medical care wait times at veterans facilities. Grassley has co-sponsored legislation that would make it easier to fire senior employees at the department for poor performance. He also urged the Veterans Affairs secretary not to allow employees to be assigned to long periods of paid leave as a result of the scandal that, in effect, result in extended paid vacations. When the allegations were first reported about the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix, he called upon the inspector general to conduct a thorough nationwide review of the Veterans Affairs health care network.
“When problems in a department are widespread, the top leadership bears ultimate responsibility for the management shortcomings that let it happen. But this can’t be the end of the story. The problems will still be there after this resignation, and they need to be fixed. Everyone in the department who was responsible should go. The Senate should take up the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act that the House passed last week to help make that possible. That legislation makes it easier to fire senior Veterans Affairs employees over poor performance. I’m co-sponsoring the Senate companion bill. Too often, a resignation at the top becomes an excuse for a president to abandon reforms and escape accountability. This resignation doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t give President Obama a free pass to move on.”