Pentagon undersecretary Robert Wilkie was, on Monday, confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs by the United States Senate, ending months of uncertainty over the post.
The Senate voted in favour of Wilkie’s appointment as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with the final vote standing at 86-9.
In a statement, US President Donald Trump praised Wilkie as someone who has “dedicated his life to serving his country with honour and pride and displayed great patriotism and a commitment to supporting and empowering America’s armed forces and veterans,” CNN reported.
On a related note, the US President is scheduled to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City on Tuesday.
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The nine lawmakers who voted against Wilkie’s nomination were mostly Democrats – Bernie Sanders, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein of California, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, as per the report.
Later, Sanders said he voted against Wilkie’s appointment as he felt that the Trump administration would privatise the health care of Veteran Affairs.
In March, David Shulkin was removed from the Veterans Affairs secretary post by Trump and was replaced by White House physician Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson as the agency’s acting secretary.
However, he withdrew his nomination a month later after allegations of misconduct during his time at the White House Medical Unit cropped up.
Trump then nominated Wilkie as the new acting Veterans Affairs secretary.
Despite Trump saying that Wilkie would shortly take over the post permanently, he left in May, following which acting Secretary Peter O’Rourke took over.
Wilkie, during the Senate hearing, asserted that he would not privatise the veteran affair’s healthcare, adding that if the Trump administration agreed to do so, then he would not shy away from expressing his disapproval to the US President.
Date: July 24, 2018