Senate panel schedules hearing on Trump VA pick

Senate panel schedules hearing on Trump VA pick
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will get a Senate confirmation hearing next week.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will take up the nomination of Robert Wilkie on June 27, the committee announced Wednesday.

Wilkie, who served as acting VA secretary until he stepped down after being nominated for secretary, is a Washington insider with years of administrative experience who has previously worked on Capitol Hill as well as in the Pentagon for two presidents.

Trump formally nominated Wilkie in May to succeed former VA chief David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinPress: Acosta, latest to walk the plank Senior Trump administration official to leave post next week Trump sent policy pitch from Mar-a-Lago member to VA secretary: report MORE, who was forced out over concerns about his taxpayer-funded travel.

Shulkin contends he was fired because he opposed Trump’s attempts at dramatically expanding veterans’ access to private-sector care.

In a potential boost for Wilkie’s chances, the committee’s ranking member Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterGOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 MORE (D-Mont.), said last month he thinks Wilkie is a “strong choice” to lead the agency.  

"Right now I certainly don't have anything that would cause me not to support him. He's a solid guy," Tester said.

Wilkie’s nomination follows the fall of Trump's previous pick, White House physician Ronny Jackson, who faced questions about his experience and ability to lead the second-largest bureaucracy in the federal government.

Jackson was ultimately forced to withdraw his nomination after allegations — publicly detailed by Tester — surfaced that he mishandled prescription drugs, drank on the job and created a "hostile" work environment.  

Trump has repeatedly blasted Tester over Jackson's decision to withdraw.

Unlike Jackson, Wilkie has gone through an executive vetting process before when he was nominated for Pentagon posts under Trump and former President George W. Bush.