Robert McDonald Confirmed as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted 97-0 to confirm Robert McDonald, former Chief Executive Officer of Proctor and Gamble, to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). McDonald, who is a former Army officer, is filling the opening left when General Eric Shinseki resigned in May due to the scandals surrounding the VA hospital system.
Although the Senate unanimously confirmed McDonald, he now faces the difficult task of actually fixing the numerous problems plaguing the VA system. According Reuters, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller of Florida said after the confirmation vote, “In the wake of the biggest scandal in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Bob McDonald certainly has his work cut out for him.”
McDonald explained his plans for fixing the problems at the VA facilities last week. He pledged to bring increased accountability and discipline to the agency and to restructure the metrics used for employee evaluations. He also toured the country meeting with veterans and VA employees to better understand the problems facing the agency.
Legislation proposed on Monday by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Chairman Miller will help McDonald begin fixing some of the problems in his agency. The measure would give the Secretary increased authority to fire senior employees and provide $17 billion to hire additional doctors, pay for veterans’ treatments, and lease properties for VA use.
Republicans Bid Farewell to Eric Cantor
On Thursday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will step down from his role in the Republican leadership following his defeat in the Virginia primary last month, and his colleagues provided him with a sendoff at the party’s weekly meeting on Tuesday. Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio thanked Leader Cantor for his service, and his colleagues provided him a standing ovation. The Members also saw a video highlighting Leader Cantor’s achievements.
House Republican Conference staffers created the tribute video. Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said she “wanted to do a tribute highlighting all of his work as majority leader.” Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania also praised Representative Cantor, saying, “Eric has great things left to do in the future.”
And for our latest post: Supreme Court on Recess Appointments: The President Loses, Congress Partially Wins