What is next for VA Secretary

Jonathan Kaupanger
March 14, 2018 - 3:32 pm

Photo by Olivier Douliery

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There could be a serious message, sent out to the Twitter universe and VA Secretary David Shulkin here soon.  Does he have Presidential support still?  Is Rick Perry moving from Energy to VA?

At this point, who knows, but there are plenty of rumors going around that say Shulkin’s days at VA are numbered.  But for now, he does have the support of a few key lawmakers.  According to CNN, the chairmen of both the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees think Shulkin should stay put. 

Senator Johnny Isakson states that he believes Shulkin has done “a fine job,” and that he continues to support the VA and Secretary Shulkin.  Rep. Phil Roe’s statement on Shulkin was similar, that he’s done a bang-up job and, “I would certainly hate to see him leave that position. We have a great working relationship,” said Roe.

Both The New York Times and CNN reported yesterday that the president was considering replacing Shulkin with Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Today, ABC News reported that Perry didn’t want the job.  “I am energy secretary from now until the foreseeable future.  Happily.” said the former Texas Governor. 

Shulkin, by all accounts, has had a decent first year on the job. But lately, with a brutal Inspector General’s report on the Secretary’s taxpayer funded working vacation to Europe, things aren’t looking so good for Shulkin.  At least one more IG report on Shulkin is expected to be released soon.  This one is expected to be about how the secretary has used his security detail for personal shopping trips.

Shulkin has met with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly several times in the past few weeks and it looks like his job is safe, for now.  But even White House meetings are sending mixed messages.  Last week, Shulkin met with the president and according to The Washington Post in the middle of a conversation about the Choice Program, the president picked up the phone and called Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth to ask him about the policy and how they should move forward.

Back at the VA, it looks like Shulkin has cut contact with top VA officials and even has an armed guard at the door to his office.  One senior manager at the VA told The Washington Post, “Things have come to a grinding halt.  It’s killing the agency.  Nobody trusts each other.”