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Wilkie confirmed as Veterans Affairs secretary

Posted: 6:25 PM, Jul 23, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-23 22:25:52Z

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the Senate confirmation vote of Robert Wilkie, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be Veterans Affairs secretary.

5:09 p.m.

The Senate has confirmed Pentagon official Robert Wilkie to be secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The vote Monday was 86-9.

He’ll lead 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.

Wilkie takes on the task of fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector. While pledging to “shake up complacency” at VA, the Air Force and Navy veteran has also assured Democrats he will not privatize the department and will keep VA health care “fully funded.”

Trump selected Wilkie for the post in May after firing David Shulkin. Trump’s initial replacement choice, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdrew after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced.

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2:45 a.m.

After months of tumult, Pentagon official Robert Wilkie is expected to become Veterans Affairs secretary when the Senate votes Monday to confirm him. He’ll be tasked with fulfilling President Donald Trump’s promise to steer more patients to the private sector.

Wilkie is Trump’s third pick for the job. The long-time public official says he will “shake up complacency” at VA, which has struggled with long waits in providing medical care to veterans.

He is expected to easily win confirmation after a Senate panel approved his nomination earlier this month. Only Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted “no,” citing concerns the Trump administration would “privatize” VA.

If confirmed, Wilkie was expected to be sworn into office quickly, possibly joining Trump at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention Tuesday in Kansas City.