WASHINGTON — Three Senate Republicans called Tuesday for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, following allegations of corruption and avoidable deaths at a veterans' hospital in Phoenix.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stopped short of calling for Shinseki to step down, but said, "A change in leadership might be a good step in the right direction."
"It's certainly been an embarrassing period for the VA," McConnell told reporters Tuesday after a closed party caucus. "It's been a stunning period of dysfunction."
McConnell's comments came as three Republican senators — John Cornyn of Texas, Jerry Moran of Kansas and Richard Burr of North Carolina — called for Shinseki to resign amid claims that up to 40 patients in Phoenix may have died because of delays in care. Burr is the senior Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Cornyn, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, said Shinseki's tenure has been marked by "bureaucratic incompetence and failed leadership" and said he agrees with the American Legion, which called for Shinseki's resignation on Monday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama retains confidence in Shinseki. Carney noted that Obama has directed Shinseki and the department's inspector general to investigate the Phoenix deaths.