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Rick Nolan among Democrats calling on VA secretary to resign


As political pressure on the U.S. Veterans Affairs secretary builds, Minnesota Congressman Rick Nolan became the first Democrat in Minnesota's delegation to call for the resignation of Erik Shinseki.

Nolan (left) tells MPR News that Shinseki, a four star Army general, has failed to resolve chronic problems at the VA. "I know he's a good soldier and deserves to be commended for that, but I think if he wants to be a real good soldier, he'll resign now and let the president get someone in there who's a stronger, tougher manager," Nolan told MPR.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is among many Republicans who have called for Shinseki's ouster over reports of mismanagement and fraud at the VA's network of hospitals and medical centers around the country. But Nolan is one of just a handful of Democrats on Capitol Hill to do so, MPR says.

The statement Nolan issued also calls on the Speaker of the House to establish a committee to investigate the allegations against the VA, which include deferred care, falsified records, and waiting lists that were kept secret to conceal long delays.

Senate letter

Also on Friday Minnesota's U.S. Senators sent a letter to the VA criticizing the agency, but did not call on Shinseki to resign.

As the Star Tribune reports, Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken wrote to the director of the VA Midwest Health Care Network in Minnesota, seeking specifics on the wait times for appointments at clinics in the state.

Franken released the full letter, which calls the incidents at VA hospitals outrageous and unacceptable. On Thursday one of Franken's Republican challengers, Mike McFadden, had criticized the Senator for a "deafening silence" on the issue.

Minnesota clinics

Minnesota Democrat Tim Walz, who serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, toured three of the VA clinics in the state this week and said there is no evidence of secret waiting lists along the lines of those reported in Arizona.

The St. Cloud Times reports the VA Health Care System in that city responded to an inquiry from the newspaper by saying it is not among 26 facilities being investigated in connection with the recent allegations. The Times says an email from a spokeswoman for the St. Cloud VA system says administrators did not keep a second waiting list for appointments.

Hearings on the problems at the VA are scheduled in the House next week.

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