The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC) voted July 10 to advance Robert Wilkie’s nomination as the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). His nomination is expected to go before the full Senate for a vote this week.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., cast the sole vote against Wilkie’s confirmation, marking the first time in history a member of the committee has voted against a nominee for VA secretary. Sanders expressed concerns during the confirmation hearing of efforts to privatize the VA.
“There is … overwhelming opposition to the privatization of the VA from The American Legion, VFW … and all the major veterans organizations,” said Sanders during the June 27 confirmation hearing. Wilkie vowed to resist any efforts to privatize the nation’s largest health care system during the hearing.
Wilkie — who is expected to be confirmed — will take over as the VA’s head during a crucial time for the department. The VA signed a $10 billion contract with Cerner for a new electronic health record system and the MISSION Act – a comprehensive piece of legislation overhauling veteran’s health care – was recently signed into law.