Robert Wilkie, acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was approved by the Senate to lead the VA on Monday, completing a contentious selection process that saw President Trump’s previous nominee fall amid sweeping, unproven misconduct allegations, Fox News informed.
Wilkie will head the government’s second-largest department, with 360,000 employees serving 9 million veterans. The department has been paralyzed by infighting over the role of private care for veterans.
Trump selected Wilkie, who was confirmed 86-9, for the post in May after firing David Shulkin amid investigations into alleged spending abuses and reports of internal dissension at the VA.
In February, the VA’s internal watchdog found that Shulkin had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and his then-chief of staff had doctored emails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayer expense. Shulkin agreed to reimburse the government more than $4,000 in that case.
Trump’s initial replacement choice, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, had long served as White House doctor and a Navy admiral. He withdrew his nomination to lead the VA earlier this year.
Jackson had been besieged by unproven allegations compiled by Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s office concerning his prescription-drug practices and use of alcohol. Tester is the top Democrat on the Republican-controlled Senate Veteran Affairs Committee.