Pete Hegseth (R), a contender for the position of Veterans Affairs Secretary, is seen in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, NY, USA upon his arrival on December 15, 2016

Photo Credit: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pool

Fox and Friends contributor eyed for VA Chief

March 15, 2018 - 5:16 pm

Conservative commentator and 'Fox and Friends' personality Peter Hegseth is the latest name to be floated as a replacement to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a report by The Washington Post.

And yet, VA Secretary David Shulkin hasn't been fired.

Shulkin, who has come under fire by the White House amid differences in opinion on the privatization of veteran's healthcare and allegations of misconduct over a European trip, is battling for his job.  President Trump has publicly said that Shulkin's job is safe, although media reports continue to float names of new secretaries of the VA.  Earlier this week, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  There are reports that another shakeup in the White House may be coming later in the week.

The report says Trump has not discussed the idea with Hegseth, however Hegseth has Trump's ear, helping to shape his vision of veterans policy and healthcare.  Trump advocates for privatization of the VA healthcare system, which Hegseth has championed.  

Hegseth, the co-host of the 'Fox and Friends Weekend,"  is an Iraqi War veteran, and served in the conservative lobbying groups Vets for Freedom and Concerned Veterans for America.  Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch support Concerned Veterans for America, and have advocated for privatization of healthcare.  

Shulkin, who just today appeared on Capital Hill to discuss the 2019 VA budget, has supported the Choice program - which extends private healthcare benefits for veterans when the VA can't offer acceptable or timely resources - but has fought full privatization saying it's not in the best interest of veterans.

“I’ve been clear that I think this would be the wrong decision for our country's veterans, to privatize VA,” Shulkin said today. “I’ve also been clear that I think that VA can’t do this alone."

But Shulkin has detractors inside VA and White House who disagree with him, and they may be the driving force to replace him.  

Read about Shulkin's political fight inside VA and the White House  

VSOs have come out in defense of Shulkin, generally believing that he's done more to help veterans than other VA secretaries in the past.

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Energy Secretary Rick Perry - the former Texas governor and a former Air Force pilot - was being considered for the VA job.  On Wednesday, Perry announced that he wasn't interested.