Healthcare

Senate panel schedules hearing on Trump VA pick

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President Trump’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 Shulkin, 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 Tester (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.

Tags David Shulkin Donald Trump Jon Tester

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