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Senate panel approves VA secretary nominee Robert McDonald

A Senate panel on Wednesday unanimously approved the nomination of former Procter & Gamble chief Robert McDonald to run the scandal-tainted Department of Veterans Affairs.

The informal voice vote by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee moves McDonald’s nomination to the full Senate for consideration. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who heads the panel, told reporters he would like the Senate to vote before its next break.

Robert McDonald appears before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. (EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS).

If confirmed, McDonald would take the helm of a department plagued by recent scandals in which VA medical centers nationwide falsified scheduling records to hide treatment delays and VA benefits centers changed the dates of old claims to make them appear new.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee gave the nominee a warm reception during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. “There’s no doubt in my mind he has the heart and the work ethic and the empathy’’ to do the job, said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

McDonald promised to bring a higher degree of accountability and transparency to the VA, even promising to give his cellphone number to members of the committee to make sure they can always reach him. “When I give you my cellphone number, I want yours at the same time,” he said.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.



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