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Heat builds on Obama to fire VA chief

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The list of Democrats calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign is growing. (Source: CNN) The list of Democrats calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign is growing. (Source: CNN)

WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - The calls are mounting for President Obama's Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down.

First, it was Republicans. Now, dozens of Democrats are demanding he go.

The outrage is growing after an Inspector General report pointed to "systemic" problems throughout the VA healthcare system.

In Phoenix, at least 1,700 veterans waiting to see a doctor were never even put on a waiting list. Some veterans died while waiting.

As one White House official puts it, Shinseki is on "thin ice."

"I'm not gonna speculate about personnel matters," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

On Thursday, the ice started cracking as Carney refused to answer whether President Obama had confidence in Shinseki, who's leading a review of the VA scandal.

"The president looks forward to the preliminary review that he asked the secretary to provide to him," Carney said.

Carney also pointed to what the president said last week when one White House official said Shinseki was placed on "probation."

"If he thinks he's let our veterans down then I'm sure that he is not going to be interested in continuing to serve," Obama said.

The latest blow to Shinseki came in the Inspector General's report pointing to "systemic" issues in the VA system noting in Phoenix that 1,700 veterans were never put on a waiting list and were likely "lost or forgotten."

Shinseki responded in a USA Today op-ed saying, "we are redoubling our efforts, with commitment and compassion, to restore integrity to our processes to earn veterans' trust."

That's not flying with a growing list of senate Democrats, many up for re-election, who are calling for Shinseki to go.

Even as the nation's top Republican said he's not so sure.

"The real issue is that the president is the one that should be held accountable," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH.

It's no secret the president is loyal to his cabinet.

But a White House official said there's now a difference between the case of Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during the healthcare.gov fiasco, and Shinseki.

The problems at the VA, the official said, are bigger than a broken website.

When asked if the president is reluctant to fire people, Carney responded: "I think you've heard that. The president was clear that he believes accountability's important," Carney said.

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