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Sanders: I will work against any VA nominee backing privatization

Sanders: I will work against any VA nominee backing privatization
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit GOP lawmaker demands review over FBI saying baseball shooting was 'suicide by cop' House Dems to unveil drug pricing measure ahead of Biden package MORE (I-Vt.) said Sunday he will work against any Veterans Affairs (VA) nominee who supports privatizing the agency.

“I will do everything I can as a member of the veterans committee not to approve any nominee who is not going to strengthen the VA and who will oppose privatization,” Sanders told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

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The comments from Sanders come after Trump announced Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who currently serves as the presidential physician, would replace David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinBiden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress slogs toward COVID-19 relief, omnibus deal A crisis that unites veterans MORE as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Shulkin penned an op-ed in The New York Times opposing the privatization of the agency after his exit and saying there are officials within the administration pushing for it.

Sanders, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said veterans’ organizations argue the agency should be strengthened rather than privatized. He also blamed billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, arguing their influence over the Trump administration is what’s pushing privatization. 

“So what you’re looking at under the leadership of the Koch brothers, is a massive effort to privatize agencies of the United States government and give them over to private corporations,” said Sanders. "That is what the removal of Shulkin is all about.”

The Koch brothers did not contribute to Trump's presidential campaign, breaking with years of donations to Republican candidates.