Washington, May 18 (EFE).- US President Donald Trump announced Friday his nomination of the current acting secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie, to become the permanent head of that department.
In choosing Wilkie as the top VA official, the president has finally found a substitute for his predecessor, David Shulkin, who was fired by Trump late last March due to his alleged misuse of public funds.
“Acting Secretary Wilkie – who, by the way, has done an incredible job at the VA, and I’ll be informing him in a little while, he doesn’t know this yet – that we’re going to be putting his name up for nomination to be secretary of the Veterans Administration,” Trump said during an event at the White House, after which he said to his nominee, “I’m sorry that I ruined the surprise.”
Wilkie thus becomes the choice to take charge of the department after the controversy that exploded around the first candidate Ronny Jackson, the head of White House medical services, led him to withdraw from the confirmation process.
However, Wilkie’s arrival as acting VA secretary was not well received either, since different associations filed complaints against the government on grounds that his designation meant by-passing the department’s correct hierarchical order, while also being a violation of federal laws.
According to the complaint, presented in April before a District of Colombia court, the government did not comply with the law when he designated Wilkie, who held the position of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, instead of choosing the undersecretary of Veterans Affairs, Thomas Bowman.
Wilkie’s nomination seeks to clear away the controversies in which the VA has seen itself ensnared in recent months while managing an annual budget of $186 billion and a staff of 360,000 employees, dedicated above all to providing medical attention to former combatants.
Wilkie’s candidacy now goes to Congress, where legislators must give him the go-ahead to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.