Ronny L. Jackson, the official White House physician nominated by President Trump to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, has had his confirmation hearing postponed this evening after a last-minute bipartisan coalition of Senators expressed concerns over his qualifications for the job and his performance in overseeing the White House medical staff, according to The Washington Post.
The postponement was announced only two days before the U.S. Navy rear admiral was set to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and puts his eventual confirmation in serious question.
Jackson was nominated by President Trump to replace fired (if you ask him) or resigning (according to the White House) Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin but faced questions about his lack of experience in managing large health care operations and for his fawning assessment of the president’s physical condition after his annual medical exam. He famously said that Trump could live to 200 if he would start eating a healthier diet.
While that nightmare-inducing thought may have been a joking exaggeration, it was a closer examination of Jackson’s management of the internal White House medical office that reportedly sparked concerns about his ability to handle the responsibilities of the position to which he’s been nominated.
The Veterans Affairs committee’s ranking Democrat, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), told The Washington Post that the committee is still appraising Jackson’s qualifications, but refused to get into exactly what triggered the postponement of the doctor’s testimony.
“I can tell you we’re vetting out Jackson,” he said. “I can’t get into specifics, but we’re doing our job to make sure he’s fit for the job.”
The Republican chairman of the committee, Johnny Isakson (R-GA), declined to comment on the postponement or any motivating factors in the decision.
With the Veterans Affairs agency still facing long delays in providing effective medical services to our nation’s former servicemen and servicewomen, a lack of leadership at the head of the agency can only mean more disarray and a more difficult turnaround.
Ensuring that a competent Secretary of Veterans Affairs is confirmed, however, is worth taking the time to research fully, if only to restore confidence in an organization that’s faced serious challenges in the last few years.
Stay tuned for further developments.
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