Senate Confirms McDonough, Biden’s Pick to Lead Veterans Affairs

The U.S. Senate confirmed Denis McDonough as the head of Veterans Affairs on Monday, making the former Obama chief of staff the second non-veteran to lead the department.

The VA, which has faced scandals under both Republican and Democratic administrations, is the second largest federal agency behind the Department of Defense.

Senate Confirms McDonough, Biden’s Pick to Lead Veterans Affairs

The 87-7 vote for McDonough will likely be the last confirmation of President Joe Biden’s nominees before the Senate begins former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday. Only six of Biden’s other cabinet-level nominees have been confirmed.

McDonough served as the deputy national security adviser under former President Barack Obama before becoming the White House chief of staff. It was in the latter role that McDonough oversaw the overhaul of the VA after the 2014 uproar regarding wait times for veterans seeking care.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted unanimously last week to advance his nomination.

McDonough “has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to public service and a deep understanding that taking care of our veterans is a cost of war,” Chairman Jon Tester said after the committee vote last week.

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