House VA chairman wants to meet nominee

The chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee wants a face-to-face meeting with President Obama’s nominee to run the Veterans Affairs Department.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) is trying to arrange an in-person meeting with former Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald, according to a House aide.

The White House so far has only offered to make McDonald available for a phone call, with a meeting possible sometime within the next several weeks, the aide said, adding, “Miller would prefer to meet with him.”

While the Senate is responsible for confirming McDonald, Miller would consider any summit a “gesture of good will to Congress, given the historically strained relations between the department and its congressional oversight bodies,” the aide continued.

A White House official told The Hill it's working on a meeting between Miller and McDonald.

“Mr. McDonald just started his meetings with Senators this week as part of the confirmation process and we are working to set up time with Chairman Miller and Ranking Member [Mike] Michaud [(D-Maine)] as well.”

McDonald, a West Point Graduate and Army veteran, on Tuesday met with Miller’s counterpart, Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), behind closed doors for roughly an hour.

On Wednesday, Sanders said he came away from the meeting “impressed” by McDonald’s military and corporate background and predicted he would make a “very good secretary at the VA.”

Asked if Miller should interview McDonald, Sanders said: “That’s something for the administration and Mr. Miller to work out but I think dialogue is good.”

If the two meet, their conversation would include the “historic lack of transparency to Congress” as well as McDonald’s plans to boost accountability across the embattled agency, the aide said.

While no confirmation hearing has been scheduled yet, McDonald likely will spend the next several days meeting one-on-one with Senate Veterans' Affairs panel members.