Senate veterans affairs chairman upbeat about VA nominee Robert Wilkie

Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson gave an upbeat assessment Monday of Robert Wilkie, the acting secreta...

Posted: May 22, 2018 10:17 AM
Updated: May 22, 2018 10:17 AM

Senate Veterans Affairs Chairman Johnny Isakson gave an upbeat assessment Monday of Robert Wilkie, the acting secretary of Veterans Affairs, whom President Donald Trump unexpectedly announced Friday would be his nominee to fill the job permanently.

"I am very excited I think he is a great choice," the Georgia Republican told CNN during a brief interview in the Capitol.

Isakson said he will hold confirmation hearings for Wilkie the week after next, when the Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess. He said the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, had agreed to that plan.

Isakson was cautiously optimistic there will be broad support for Wilkie both in his committee and the full Senate.

"I assume that but I don't take it for granted so we'll make sure," Isakson said.

Wilkie was chosen after Trump's first choice to lead the troubled agency, Adm. Ronny Jackson, who was then then the President's physician, dropped out after a series of serious allegations surfaced regarding his professional and personal conduct.

"I've learned to say there's never no 'other issues,'" Isakson said referring to Jackson's problems. "That's why we're going to do the due diligence that we need to do in the committee, which is what we did on Admiral Jackson and hopefully the results will be better."

Isakson praised the choice of Wilkie.

"He's got a lot of strengths in areas we need them right now and he's a proven entity so I think he will be good," the senator said.

Isakson's comments were more positive and went further than a statement Friday when he said he wanted to learn more about Wilkie's "long-term goals" for the VA.

"Sen. Isakson has had a number of positive meetings with Undersecretary Wilkie in his capacity as acting VA secretary," said Amanda Maddox, a spokesperson for Isakson explaining his thinking. "The chairman has been impressed with his willingness to work with Congress on shepherding through the VA community care legislation that is currently pending before the Senate."

That bill, which is designed to allow veterans to seek care from private health care providers if they can't readily get it at a VA facility, passed the House last week and is expected to pass the Senate this week.

A spokeswoman for Tester said he's looking forward to meeting with Wilkie.

"Senator Tester has met with Wilkie several times, but not since being nominated as permanent Secretary. He plans on meeting with him right after this next recess," said Marnee Banks, a spokeswoman for Tester.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds110426
Madison77829
Lauderdale76569
Neshoba73945
Jones70933
Scott66312
Forrest60039
DeSoto59310
Rankin4639
Leake45512
Holmes44431
Copiah3344
Jackson31415
Attala31218
Yazoo2985
Newton2924
Oktibbeha28314
Leflore28238
Lincoln28131
Wayne2803
Monroe26925
Harrison2687
Lamar2525
Lowndes2529
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20416
Warren19910
Washington1998
Lee1978
Noxubee1956
Covington1832
Bolivar16911
Jasper1684
Clarke15619
Smith15611
Lafayette1564
Kemper15611
Chickasaw14314
Coahoma1324
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1165
Yalobusha1116
Grenada1104
Lawrence1071
Simpson1050
Sunflower963
Tate931
Hancock9012
Marshall893
Union897
Itawamba897
Webster885
Panola873
Wilkinson859
Montgomery841
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun684
Walthall670
Amite651
Humphreys647
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Choctaw522
Perry513
Pontotoc493
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie311
Greene301
George302
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19387

Reported Deaths: 676
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2341123
Jefferson1927105
Montgomery190544
Tuscaloosa85316
Marshall7149
Franklin5939
Lee56334
Shelby53619
Tallapoosa43566
Butler43121
Walker3973
Elmore38110
Chambers36326
Madison3594
Unassigned3144
Morgan3141
Baldwin2969
Dallas2963
Lowndes26912
Etowah26512
DeKalb2603
Autauga2485
Coffee2401
Sumter2369
Houston2275
Pike2231
Bullock2197
Colbert1972
Hale19210
Russell1870
Barbour1831
Marengo1796
Lauderdale1752
Calhoun1693
Cullman1631
Wilcox1587
Choctaw15310
Clarke1492
St. Clair1372
Randolph1288
Dale1250
Marion12511
Talladega1215
Pickens1215
Limestone1100
Chilton1081
Greene955
Macon944
Winston920
Jackson863
Henry842
Covington831
Crenshaw803
Escambia793
Bibb761
Washington746
Blount641
Lawrence510
Monroe492
Geneva450
Perry430
Conecuh421
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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