Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Acting VA secretary nominated to lead agency

Today, the president announced he intends to nominate Acting Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to lead the agency. The nomination comes three weeks after the president’s previous pick, former White House physician, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, withdrew his nomination for the post amid allegations over professional misconduct.

Wilkie has held the post of acting secretary since March after the president fired the former secretary, Dr. David Shulkin, via tweet and, according to Shulkin, in response to his opposition toward VA privatization. More than 9 million veterans rely on the VA for medical care and should the Senate confirm Wilkie, he would lead the largest healthcare system in the United States and the second largest government agency, overseeing an $81.5 billion budget.

Wilkie’s career has seen him serve as counsel, legislative director, and advisor to a number of Republican Representatives and Senators on Capitol Hill, a senior advisor to then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as well as her successor, Stephen Hadley, before being named Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs by President George W. Bush in 2006. In July, 2017, Wilkie was nominated by President Trump to serve as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness before joining the VA as acting secretary.

Confirmation hearings are expected in the coming weeks and will likely center around Wilkie’s opinion on a VA department overhaul as well as privatization.

NALC will continue to monitor the confirmation process.

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