Senate set to confirm Wilkie for Veterans Affairs secretary


WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of tumult, Pentagon official Robert Wilkie is expected to become secretary of Veterans Affairs when the Senate votes later today to confirm him, taking on the task of fulfilling President Donald Trump's promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector.

Wilkie is Trump's third pick for the job in 18 months. The longtime public official says he will "shake up complacency" at VA, which has struggled with long waits in providing medical treatment to millions of veterans.

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

If confirmed, Wilkie, 55, was expected to be sworn into office quickly, the White House has told some veterans groups, possibly joining Trump at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention Tuesday in Kansas City. VFW has left a slot open for the "VA secretary" to speak before Trump addresses the convention.

Trump selected Wilkie for the post in May after firing his first VA secretary, David Shulkin, amid ethics charges and internal rebellion at the department over the role of private care for veterans. Trump's initial replacement choice, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdrew after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced.

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