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VIDEO: VETERANS: Murray Urges Support for VA Nomination, Reform Deal

Jul 29 2014

Murray: “I am hopeful the steps we are taking here this week on behalf of our nation’s heroes will finally ignite the much-delayed reforms our veterans have been demanding and deserve.”



WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, delivered remarks ahead of the Senate voting to unanimously confirm Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary nominee Robert McDonald by a vote of 97-0. In her remarks, Murray commended the Chairmen of the Veterans’ Affairs Committees for reaching a deal to build and strengthen the VA system, and urged colleagues to support Robert McDonald to be its next Secretary.

Full Text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Madam President, before I begin I’d like to take a moment to commend the Chairmen of the Veterans’ Affairs Committees in both the House and Senate for their commitment to reaching a deal that puts our veterans first and gives the VA the tools they need to address immediate challenges.

“More importantly, I applaud their work to build and strengthen the VA system in order to continue delivering the best care for our nation’s heroes over the long-term.

“The deal they announced yesterday is an important step toward addressing the many issues we know exist within the VA system, but it cannot be the final step.

“As transparency and accountability increase at the VA, so will the investigations and reports of additional concerns requiring even more action from the VA, the Administration and Congress. 

“However, as Chairman Miller said yesterday, we can’t legislate good character here in Congress.

“It’s going to be up to the leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs to truly enact those reforms.

“So, Madam President—I’ve come to the floor here today in support of the nomination of Robert McDonald, someone I believe has the skills necessary to make these necessary changes as the next VA Secretary.

“As I told Mr. McDonald last week, he is faced with a truly monumental task.

“Even as we pass compromise legislation to bring significant reforms at the VA to reduce wait times and improve accountability, there are still many other serious challenges VA must address:

“Twenty-two veterans still take their own lives each day.

“Thousands of veterans are alone, coping with sexual assaults.

“And while the Department has made commendable progress, it will be an uphill battle as we work to eliminate veterans’ homelessness and the claims backlog.

“Mr. McDonald will have to grapple with these, and many more issues, all on day one.

“When I met with Mr. McDonald in my office a few weeks ago, he told me he was one of the veterans lost in the system during his transition from the military to civilian life. 

“So I trust he understands what a critical moment this is for VA and why we must finally fix many of these systemic and cultural challenges.

“Madam President—we have all made a promise to those who have signed up to serve.

“So I encourage my colleagues to support this nomination.

“And I am hopeful the steps we are taking here this week on behalf of our nation’s heroes will finally ignite the much-delayed reforms our veterans have been demanding and deserve.

“Thank you, Madam President—I yield the floor.”