DC Reacts to VA Chief Eric Shinseki's Resignation

GOP Congresswoman Jackie Walorski wants to "root out corruption" from VA.
14:53 | 05/30/14

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Transcript for DC Reacts to VA Chief Eric Shinseki's Resignation
This is a special -- To -- -- -- -- are for me his own resignation. With considerable threat except it. And with that one chapter of the veterans affairs scandal and it air -- -- he walked out of the White House out. As head of the BA this story though far from over his resignation though those. Does not absolve the president of his responsibility deceptive. And make things right for our veterans. Business as usual cannot continue. As a first step the senate should immediately take up the house passed -- VA management accountability act. And until the president outlines -- vision and an effective plan for addressing the broad dysfunction at the V it. But today's announcement really changes nothing. Just one of the reactions from today's developments over when I'm down Cutler and New York the VA has a new acting leader this afternoon. He is Sloan Gibson who takes over immediately as acting secretary. He was actions that he's -- before that. He was the CEO of the US so so with more on today's quick moving events a lot of -- ABC's -- -- -- In Washington briefing. And President Obama constant techie and good man but he sessions that he believed that he couldn't fix the problems without becoming a distraction himself. Following a four minute talk with president -- the White House. Veterans affairs secretary -- that he stepped down the president said he agrees -- -- that it's time for new leadership. And a few minutes ago sectors and -- are for -- his own resignation. With considerable threat. I accepted earlier this morning since that he took responsibility for the problems plaguing the -- sits down he admitted his original belief was wrong. Issues with -- -- -- -- -- care the hospitals are not isolate. We not Olivier has a systemic. Totally unacceptable lack of integrity -- and -- -- that regional integrity as a responsible it is indefensible. And ominous. To me. -- that he had me out steps to fix the problems but he couldn't overcome the growing drumbeat of calls for his resignation. More than 100 members of congress on both sides of the -- wanted -- ago. We don't have time for distractions we need to fix. The problem. -- -- and that deputy VA secretary will run the company in the meantime but there's RD and some criticism. With some saying that new leadership needs to come from the outside. Dan back TO ABC's pre. We are left in DC pre -- thank you for that. Right now I want to bring in congresswoman Jackie -- -- -- representative. For Indiana's second district and a member of the house committee on veterans -- congressman thanks for joining us we appreciate your time. Thank you so much -- I wanna get your thoughts what do you make of the secretary's resignation. Well I'm grateful that your time today. You know I've said all along I was probably among the first people to call on to resign as a member of the committee he's an honorable man. And you know he's done phenomenal things but -- -- in his televised coming into look at what's happening to me around the country and I. You know our veterans deserve it certainly the American people deserve it. I guess I want to caution everybody in the country seeing this news today this is not a moment to celebrate. This is a tragedy in this country that we are having to do what we're doing with the oversight. Veterans losing their lives a system where there's corruption inside. And I can tell you that step to from what is happening today Cassidy a massive national investigation and the people that created this -- aviators and deliberative group of people somewhere. And if we don't root out. This corruption. It doesn't matter who comes in here it's gonna happen again and we're gonna set -- -- for -- -- step two is following through with our word I believe. That this is not political it's not partisan. There is a crisis -- and on and demands urgent attention and I think this allows us now. To focus on the next step of -- which is what is going on inside and rooting out the corruption. You also that you wanted to find someone that has. Outside experience and Robert Thompson put an end to this deliberate destruction of the records Sloan Gibson who was the deputy secretary has now been named as the acting secretary what kind of faith do you have in him. Well I just think that I think you know acting as one thing. As long as the president takes this very very seriously and moves quickly and the senate confirms -- the nominee is from the president I think that. You know we have -- have -- a fresh set of eyes I think it's I think it's really important that the person that they put in here has had. Large hospital experience and knows how to run -- our facility the multiple facilities and don't forget there -- over 300000 people the work of the via. And I think that you know we have an opportunity in this country this is a decade old problem. But we have an opportunity right now to do what's right for the sake of right and keep -- on the track of moving forward staying focused. Getting to the root of it and then for once really clean up of this organization that that that really services in a multiple millions of our veterans. Looking at the expense of the problems right now these these -- issues and VA hospitals this -- -- long wait times goes far back -- 2005. On air actions that he nominated and and put in the position in 2009 is it fair -- to hold him acceptable for those problems that took place before. He started in that position. Well look you know but when you're over organization this large and there's been GAO report tonight to -- reports too numerous to count. I don't know -- not aware -- the problems are there. -- written news agencies are reporting it you know we have committee hearings -- available public. These these reports that come out are open to the public I think that job. -- be nearly impossible to be at the top of this and not your body even from their own local news networks. He's there's something wrong with the culture at the department. Affairs of veterans affairs and. There is if you obviously have something wrong and I agree with the president. In this these urgent action but you obviously have something wrong when the IG report from this week so has. That you know this went from 23 hospitals -- 46 hospitals and now. We're -- -- a nationwide swap out every single VA facility in this country to ensure and to find. Where and the world -- the buck stop. Who's responsible for coming up for these lessons responsible for destroying the last -- this concept come from of not being truthful with -- to the American people. And I intend to stay focused on this and I intend to make sure the politics doesn't enter and to our committee so we can get to the bottom of this. American people deserve -- our veterans. For sure deserve it there have been from firings at the Phoenix VA has the president had announced this morning in -- forcing wit with with -- -- -- he's stepping down. Which are also calling for outside criminal investigation why is that still necessary. Well number one you're talking about look at the entire country. And your I don't think the IG is gonna have the time or resources to do this in a timely manner. And I think having fresh eyes even the comment from the outside and even if they blend with the IGI just think there's value I think that the number one issue that is totally disintegrated. And this country's trust. The American people don't trust of the day. Many veterans don't trust of the day and I can tell you I've been on the committee for eighteen months and we've asked for documents and answers from them that we haven't even received today. We had excuse subpoenas in the last two weeks there hasn't been done in thirty years and this place. But I can tell you that as many. Outside fresh perspectives I think that we can get -- will again put us further down the road. Creating a world class health system there are veterans deserve but I really believe that there needs to be some kind of a blind. With IG in the world today they're gonna look at this nationwide -- -- take forever we don't have forever. We have to have an urgent response -- really isn't part alarm fire has to be taken that way. This is also -- very personal issue for you you're the daughter of a veteran and I wanted to ask you as such as the daughter of veteran as a representative. The United States do you feel the VA is directly responsible for these veterans death. I think they're -- they're certainly not responsible for all of them but certainly IG report is made it clear they are ultimately responsible absolutely for some of these deaths and the people behind the the pride. Have committed a crime. If we don't -- those people -- -- the system they have all kinds of quality good people in that they had their heart in the right place they're doing the right thing for the sake of right. But if we don't do our due diligence in this place in Washington and root out those bad actors that are in there it doesn't matter who comes and at the Helm they will fail because we'll have the same thing happened. We have to. For the sake of routing this out and writing a horrible wrong we have to keep the promise here in Washington that we will not let politics -- -- and we will keep this bipartisan and we will get solutions. Do you have confidence of the president will choose. Suitable replacement. I have no idea what the president will do but I can tell you the -- -- I have a small role in this on the VA committee and the oversight that we do and I think that working together with our with our cohorts on on the senate side and on the democratic side the house we have come to a point where we really get something done and that's what we should be looking and focusing on. And you know obviously we don't have -- say is what the president does the we certainly can stay focused drill down find a solution and move on. Congress on -- -- we thank you for your time we certainly should appreciate it. Also from -- -- -- wanna bring ABC's political director Rick Klein with the latest on this and -- insect is out what comes next. What comes next is a couple of different things first the presidency need to find a permanent replacement for the VA and we haven't we -- -- person is -- Gibson is -- veteran of the VA mostly though of the US sell a long career in the military. A highly respected. In military circles but beyond that is going to be a policy -- -- and -- there's any interest again because we're gonna see these investigations that proceed -- -- gonna continue to find. New problems and then we're going to see a pretty robust political that discussion I predict. That involves Democrats saying the problem with the VA is that they didn't have enough funding we need to -- more resources to them and Republicans saying. The real problem is that the system is broken and we need to privatize. At least parts of it and find wasted to put veterans into the private system when necessary. And that's going to be the heart of it and I think we're already seeing some political finger pointing. Some some folks were saying that -- resignation doesn't really change anything there right. In fact the larger discussion is -- -- take months indeed years to play out I think this is one of those issues that's going to be out there for an extremely long time Rick what -- they get to the tone in the contents options that he's remarks this morning he apologized and promised to fix the mess. Do you honestly think that he expected to keep his job based on those kinds of remarks. I think it's easy to read that in retrospect now and realized what was going on -- -- -- that this -- the a general good soldier who was. Obeying the chain of command going out there and addressing what was in front of him knowing that he had a meeting with the commanders she's scheduled for just an hour to after that speech and that. He may have -- certainly he knew the writing was on the wall but any and you look at his record in the last couple days and his USA today -- medically just yesterday. Where he defiantly saying he was going to stay he was calling. Democrats yesterday afternoon and into the evening so we -- exact timeframe of when it was made clear to him we do know that that the president chief of staff Denis McDonough met secretary Asian -- -- the door of the Oval Office before he went in there you presume that that was on the -- warning of what was coming. Make no mistake in this was technically a resignation that was offered an agreed to by the president but he was pushed he did not want to go he thought that he be able to stay. And he was pushed by a combination of factors including. More than -- hundred members of congress about a quarter of the Democrats are sitting need to go by those political pressures he's also pushed they'll by the president who realized that it is is untenable. To keep his VA secretary no matter how much. He respected and likes him to -- -- it. Keep him in place during this tumultuous time that -- Despite the fact that he was applauded during that veterans speech that he made this morning for homeless vets. What is it about. His personal life. His commitment that made him so popular among veterans groups. He's one of them. And the fact that he was Vietnam veteran has some of them had risen through the ranks from -- the lowest of it to the highest as a general is someone that he he he had continuity of service the Republican and democratic administrations. He was someone that the hope all along was that he some of that understood exactly what they were going through. And I don't think anyone even now is doubting that commitment -- doubting him now as a management style a structure that would -- -- -- persisted as widespread manner. As it was so that's why you saw the that people begin to defect on this and to lose confidence. You know the hundred plus members of congress was an extraordinary number I think though the number would have been quite a bit higher if not for two things one. The personal relationships general -- -- he hasn't had with members of congress. And two. Some feeling among Republicans that there was a bigger fish to fry here that they wanted to see accountability and with the secretary of veterans affairs they wanted to see to school all the way up to the White House. As it is -- that for ribs and of course -- -- -- the veterans affairs committee there has there -- a push right now from some Republicans for outside help but the VA what is specifically are they asking for. There are asking that that veterans who are having wait times at the VA system be allowed to go outside the system essentially a voucher system where he'd be able to go. With government subsidies government support to a private doctor private hospital and secure the services that I need. Now this is not and we don't have the infrastructure for that quite yet we can't just shut down the VA it is to be -- system to -- and they would seriously contemplating that at this point. But this is dissolving that's been talked about a Republican circles for some time that look. They -- their argument is that the private health insurance system is a more. A more fair and and maybe more equitable way to go with this -- that you don't need to have this vast parallel structure just around veterans that -- though. -- counteract what we've been doing in this country since the civil war which is the special healthcare services so. It is a big debate it's a long running controversy and I do think that's going to come into play you're gonna see people -- funding your -- fuels they vouchers privatization. We'll see where -- lands. -- latest and the most significant development on this veterans affairs scandal. Coming this Friday morning ABC -- political director Rick Klein Rick thank you for your insight appreciate that. -- stamp and of course right now Jay Carney is hole in the daily press conference at the White House there which will be. -- watching you here on our live -- to continue that as well. This has been an ABC news digital special report you can keep up with the latest on the VA scandal in real time by downloading ABC news -- -- this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now though I'm -- Cutler New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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