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Wagner, Luetkemeyer Call For Shinseki To Step Down

(via Wikimedia Commons/ United States Department of State)
Ann Wagner has set up an exploratory committee for a potential campaign for U.S. Congress.

The two Republican members of Congress who represent the St. Louis area – Ann Wagner and Blaine Luetkemeyer – are calling for the resignation of  U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Their declarations come as several of the nation’s VA facilities, including Cochran Medical Center in St. Louis, have been accused of improper or delayed care to military veterans.

Wagner, R-Ballwin, said that Shinseki – in office since 2009 -- had “failed to provide timely services and care for our veterans.  Secretary Shinseki has failed to fulfill his mission at the VA.”

“For over six years, Secretary Shinseki has been in charge of the Department of Veteran Affairs.  And for six years, Secretary Shinseki has failed to provide timely services and care for our veterans,” Wagner said in a statement. “We need a new leader at the VA that will demand accountability, and cut through the bureaucracy to get the job done. “

Luetkemeyer followed a similar line, saying in an email that "Secretary Shinseki knew the VA had problems when he was hired and those problems have not been addressed. In fact, they have become worse. Secretary Shinseki hasn't been able to do the job so he needs to step down and let someone who can do the job."

Both comments come after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that he was considering whether to call for Shinseki to step down.

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, is holding off until the federal Inspector General’s office completes its investigation, a Clay spokesman said.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama said he still had confidence in Shinseki’s leadership. The president added, however, that he wanted changes in the VA system to address the latest problems.

Missouri’s two U.S. senators, Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill, have not called for Shinseki to step down. McCaskill also wants to see the results of the federal probe first.

Blunt told reporters this week that replacing Shinseki could force delays in making changes in the VA system by creating “scapegoats’’ instead of focusing on real solutions.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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