News Releases

Senator Murray also asked Dr. Shulkin to commit to treating all veterans equally, no matter their ethnicity or religion, even if pressured by Trump Administration to do otherwise

Dr. Shulkin committed to protecting IVF access for veterans and spouses

*Video HERE* 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a confirmation hearing for President Trump’s pick for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) pressed the nominee, Dr. David Shulkin, to explain how he would fight for veterans and the agency even when it ran counter to President Trump’s executive orders. Specifically, Senator Murray asked Dr. Shulkin about implementing Sen. Murray’s bipartisan provision that allows VA to provide IVF services to veterans despite the President’s executive order on new regulations; whether he agreed with the federal hiring freeze affecting VA facilities across the country; whether he would ever allow religion or ethnicity to be taken into consideration when providing veteran care; and what he would do as Secretary to ensure that veterans, servicemembers, and their families do not have their right to vote stripped as a result of Republicans and President Trumps’ investigation into alleged voter fraud in the recent presidential election. Sen. Murray plans to submit follow-up questions for Dr. Shulkin in the coming days.

Senator Murray is the daughter of a World War II veteran and a senior member and former chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Video of exchange between Senator Murray and Dr. Shulkin here.

Transcript of Senator Murray’s exchange with Dr. Shulkin about access to IVF services for veterans below:

Murray: Dr. Shulkin, after a very long fight, Congress finally passed a bipartisan provision to give VA legal authority to cover IVF for veterans and their spouses through Fiscal Year 2018.

Despite some technical holdups, I’ve been assured VA will implement this consistent with the intent of the law.

But I’m concerned the Trump Administration, in some reckless attempt to reverse regulations, will prevent this from happening.

So I wanted to ask you specifically - do I have your assurance, yes or no, that veterans and their spouses will have access to this service through Fiscal Year 2018?

Dr. Shulkin: Yes. It was an interim final rule on January 19th. Done.

Murray: Ok. And can I count on your continued support for access to IVF for these veterans?

Dr. Shulkin: Yes.

Transcript of Senator Murray’s exchange with Dr. Shulkin about the federal hiring freeze below:

Murray: Dr. Shulkin, President Trump last week issued a hiring freeze on federal workers, which does affect the agency you may lead as well as more than 800 positions at VA facilities in my home state of Washington.

Now, I know VA responded with some exemptions to try and make sure care is not compromised. But there are still open positions. Do you agree with the President’s hiring freeze, which is now affecting those open positions at VA?

Dr. Shulkin: Senator the most important thing to me is that we have the resources to hire the people that we need to take care of our veterans. We have requested that from the White House, and we have gotten that. So the openings – we have 37,000 positions exempted right now that we are actively recruiting for, and that we desperately want to fill. So I am very comfortable with where we are at this point.

Murray: Ok, are you going to make sure the President understands that this freeze is counterproductive at the VA?

Dr. Shulkin: Everything that we’ve asked for from the Administration right now has been granted, so I feel comfortable that we have what we need. I do commit, that if confirmed as Secretary, I would be a tireless advocate to ask the President for everything that we need to make sure our veterans are getting both the health care and services that they deserve, and that I’d be here to protect. If I’m Secretary, I’m going to have their back. 

Murray: Ok. We’ll hold you to that.

###