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By Jonah Bennett
The Senate has officially confirmed David Shulkin for the position of secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs in a unanimous vote.
Shulkin, appointed by former President Barack Obama for the position of under secretary for health at the VA, was approved Monday evening by the Senate to serve as head of the VA.
“There are no Republican veterans or Democratic veterans, there are only American veterans,” said GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, as he urged cooperation on the vote.
This vote marks a dramatic break from a 94-year-long tradition of every VA secretary bringing at least some amount of military experience to the table.
While other top-level nominees have faced serious opposition from Senate Democrats in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s controversial executive orders and also out of straight opposition to Trump’s picks, Shulkin sailed past the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in a unanimous vote last Tuesday, which was merely a week after his confirmation hearing. The vote Monday evening in the Senate was little different.
In the lead-up to Monday night’s confirmation vote, numerous senators said they would vote in the affirmative on his confirmation, praising him for his experience within the VA and his commitment to reform.
Additionally, veterans’ advocacy organizations on both sides of the political spectrum seem to have taken a liking to Shulkin.
“We are encouraged that Dr. Shulkin has acknowledged systemic failures within the VA and the need for transformational reforms to fix them,” Concerned Veterans for America Policy Director Dan Caldwell told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
“We look forward to partnering with Secretary Shulkin to bring real accountability to the department and empower veterans who wish to use their benefits to access care in the private sector,” Caldwell added.
Six major veterans’ organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership last week urging senators to take action on Shulkin’s appointment as soon as possible.
“Today, VA is at a crucial moment in history with fundamental reforms underway but many challenges still remaining,” the letter said. “However, to secure enduring and meaningful change, strong leadership is absolutely critical.”
“Once confirmed as secretary, we are confident (Shulkin) will continue moving VA forward so that it can better meet the needs of America’s veterans, their families and survivors,” the letter continued.
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