WASHINGTON — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) on July 29 released the following statement regarding the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Bob McDonald as the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs:
“The hard work now truly begins for Secretary McDonald. He will take on the challenge of overhauling a major government bureaucracy, while recommitting the VA to its most important mission of serving our veterans and their families first.
“I urge Secretary McDonald to take action to immediately provide long-waiting veterans with care from non-VA health care providers in their community, and hold VA officials accountable for any misconduct or negligence.
“Veterans in Hawaii and across the country have ultimately paid the price for the VA’s incompetence, and deserve a servant leader who will act courageously, establish a culture of accountability, and begin to earn the trust of our nation once again.
“I congratulate Secretary McDonald on his confirmation, and look forward to working with him in this shared mission of serving and honoring our veterans.”
McDonald, an Army veteran and former CEO of Procter & Gamble, succeeds Eric Shinseki, former Army chief of staff, who resigned in May amid furor over inadequate health care at the VA. Shinseki had served as VA secretary since the beginning of President Obama’s first term.
A vocal advocate for veterans, and a veteran herself, Gabbard recently introduced ACT Now for Veterans (H.R. 5131), bipartisan legislation to immediately allow eligible veterans to access non-VA health care with the assurance the VA will cover the bill. She also called on congressional leadership to keep Congress in session until VA health care reform is passed.