Sanders hopes for VA nominee hearing 'soon'

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Tuesday he hopes to schedule a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department soon.

“We’re going to try to make that happen. I think it’s important that the VA has a permanent secretary as soon as possible,” Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, told The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT
Obama nominated Robert McDonald, an Army veteran and retired Procter & Gamble CEO, at the end of June. McDonald has been well-received by lawmakers in both parties, but his nomination has yet to receive a hearing.

The Senate has three more weeks before it will leave Washington for the August recess.

Sanders met with McDonald on July 8, and has not voiced any reservations about the nomination.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the ranking Republican on the panel, said scheduling the hearing partly just depends on completing paperwork related to McDonald’s nomination.

“I’m ready to take up his nomination and move it and certainly don’t see anything that should stand in its way,” said Burr, who will meet with McDonald on Thursday.

McDonald would succeed former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, who resigned after investigations found the department had covered up long waits that veterans endured to receive care from the VA.

President Obama tapped Sloan Gibson, who joined the agency three months earlier as Shinseki's deputy, to run the department until a permanent replacement is found.

In addition to meeting with panel members, McDonald has sat down with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who represents his home state, as well as several lawmakers who represent large veteran populations, including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
 
He's also met with Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the chamber's No. 3 Democrat.