White House calls for swift confirmation of Ronny Jackson as new VA chief

Matt Saintsing
March 30, 2018 - 3:05 pm

Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA


White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the three Cabinet-level nominees have served with “honor and distinction,” and called for a quick confirmation process.

“Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel, and Admiral Ronny Jackson have served our country with honor and distinction, are highly respected on both sides of the aisle, and should be confirmed without delay,” Sanders tweeted Friday, referring to Trump’s nominees for secretary of state, CIA director, and Veterans Affairs secretary.

All three nominations were announced this month as Trump has sought a far-encompassing shake up of his cabinet over dissatisfaction, and in the case of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, a scandal involving improper use of government funds including a tax-payer funded trip to Europe last summer.

While flying back to the U.S. from Nigeria on March 13, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson found out via twitter, that he was being replaced by Pompeo. Trump then ousted national security adviser H.R. McMaster on March 22, and just one week later let go of VA Secretary David Shulkin.

Jackson, who has worked in the White House since 2006, was tapped by Trump to run the VA following Shulkin’s forced ouster. He was appointed the official White House physician in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama.

In the days since the announcement, critics have cited Jackson’s lack of management experience, a crucial requirement for anyone who wants to run the second-largest government agency behind the Department of Defense.

Jackson, along with Pompeo and Haspel, can expect a more challenging path to confirmation by the Senate.

Haspel has faced questions from a bipartisan mix of federal lawmakers about her role in the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Arizona Sen. John McCain has repeatedly called for his colleagues to scrutinize her record when she appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So far, one GOP senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, voiced his intent to vote against Haspel and Pompeo.

Pompeo, who enjoys bipartisan support, could face a contentious confirmation as several Democrats have criticized his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and others want to know where he stands on North Korea.

All three nominees will need a majority vote to pass through the Senate, where Republicans hold a thin majority of 51-49.