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Senator Murray, a senior member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee: I will not support anyone who supports privatization, has an agenda to slowly dismantle the VA, or who cannot withstand political pressure from the White House

Senator Murray: Veterans in Washington state and across the country "deserve a secretary who understands their job is to always put our veterans first"

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today in a new letter to President Trump, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee (SVAC) and the first female to ever serve as its Chairman, outlined her priorities and principles for the next person who will lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Her five principles, outlined in the letter below, include unequivocal opposition to privatizing the VA, the necessary managerial and leadership experience to lead the country's second largest federal agency, the ability to work collaboratively with Congress and always in the interest of veterans, and to be free of ethical failings or conflicts of interest.

"The 600,000 veterans in my home state of Washington, as well millions more across the nation, deserve a secretary who understands their job is to always put our veterans first, and to work faithfully and with integrity to ensure the care and benefits our veterans have earned are provided as well as this country is capable," Senator Murray wrote. "This is not a position to be handed out to personal friends or as political patronage."

As a member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Murray will have the opportunity to question and vote on the nominee during their confirmation hearing. President Trump has indicated he will nominate White House physician, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson. 

The full text of the letter is below. A PDF is here.

March 30, 2018

 

The President

The White House

 

Dear President Trump:

Following your dismissal of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I write to outline my priorities and principles that will guide my vote on your new nominee.  The 600,000 veterans in my home state of Washington, as well millions more across the nation, deserve a secretary who understands their job is to always put our veterans first, and to work faithfully and with integrity to ensure the care and benefits our veterans have earned are provided as well as this country is capable.  This is not a position to be handed out to personal friends or as political patronage.

Any nominee to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs must be someone:?

  • unequivocally opposed to privatizing the VA health care system, or any of the other proposals designed to slowly dismantle the VA system,
  • the real management and leadership experience necessary to understand and solve the complex, systemic challenges facing an organization as large as VA,
  • who will work collaboratively with Congress to faithfully implement vital policy changes, and who will be honest and forthright as Congress pursues its oversight responsibilities,
  • who will stand up for what is right and in the best interests of veterans, even in the face of political pressure from the White House, and
  • with no ethical failings or conflicts of interest. 

I will not support any nominee who does not meet these criteria, nor any nominee who does not come to this position for the sole purpose of upholding our nation’s solemn obligation to care for the men and women who have served.  You have indicated you intend to nominate Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson so I look forward to questioning him and determining if he meets these standards.

Beyond this, I hope you will work to put an end to the pettiness and infighting plaguing VA and the White House.  This behavior has undermined key policy priorities, created chaos and miscommunication, and put politics ahead of the Department’s mission.  It is a disservice to our veterans and is inexcusable.

Sincerely,

 

Patty Murray

United States Senator