The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today voted to approve the nomination of Robert Wilkie to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), moving the nomination to a vote by the full Senate.
“Mr. Wilkie is a respected, talented nominee for VA secretary, and I believe he is the right person to lead the VA,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., committee chairman, in a statement following the vote. “Mr. Wilkie has the expertise and the positive attitude to take on challenges that lie ahead, and he will prove indispensable in helping transform the VA.”
The vote comes two weeks after the committee held a hearing on June 27 to consider the nomination and question Wilkie on his qualifications. At the time, Wilkie said that IT modernization and VA’s $10 billion Electronic Health Record (EHR) contract were among his top priorities.
“Mr. Wilkie committed to putting veterans first and I’m pleased to support him,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the ranking Democrat on the committee, in a statement following the June hearing. “The VA is navigating rough waters, and I will hold Mr. Wilkie accountable for serving our veterans.”
Those rough waters include a tumultuous cycling of top VA leadership–including a failed secretary nomination–with the EHR contract with Cerner hanging in the balance. That’s prompted Congress to demand continuous oversight of the project to ensure functionality and avoid cost overruns.
Wilkie was approved by the Veteran Affairs committee via voice vote, which Isakson said was an indication of the broad support for the nominee that he hopes will translate to his confirmation. Wilkie’s nomination now moves to the full Senate for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.
“Today’s committee vote signals the broad, bipartisan support that I hope we can look forward to in his confirmation by the full Senate,” Isakson said. “I urge my colleagues to support his nomination, and I hope the Senate will act quickly to fill this important position and bring stability and leadership to the VA. Our veterans deserve no less.”