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Federal Times: Shinseki confirmation hearing on fast track

December 10, 2008


The Senate will hold a confirmation hearing for the new Veterans Affairs secretary one week before it formally receives the nomination so it can vote on members of President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet immediately after the new president takes office.

The confirmation hearing for retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki to lead the Veterans Affairs Department will be Jan. 14, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman announced Tuesday night.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the committee chairman, said he “scheduled the hearing early in the new Congress so that the Senate can act on the nomination as soon as it is received.”


If everything goes as planned, the veterans’ committee would question Shinseki during the Jan. 14 hearing and then vote on the nomination as early as the afternoon of Jan. 20, after Obama is sworn into office. The full Senate then could vote on final confirmation. That could also happen on Jan. 20, although Senate leaders have not yet announced a schedule for votes.
Shinseki, the former Army chief of staff who retired in 2003 after a disagreement with the Bush administration’s estimates about how many troops would be needed for the war in Iraq, appears to have strong support from veterans services organizations and bipartisan support in Congress.
Even the current VA secretary, Dr. James Peake, has thrown in his support.
Peake, a former Army surgeon general, worked for Shinseki when Shinseki was the Army’s leader and said he is “proud to count him as a friend.”
“He is a soldier who has dedicated his life to serving this nation. He knows servicemen and women, he knows large organizations and he knows Washington,” Peake said. “Gen. Shinseki will be a great leader for them and a strong advocate for our veterans.”
Also backing Shinseki is the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 150,000 VA workers.
Picking Shinseki “represents a clear break from the past eight years in which the Bush administration sought to dismantle the VA through the use of fee-based contract care and undercut the agency by continually understaffing and underfunding the agency,” the union says in a statement. “We believe that as a veteran, retired Army Gen. Shinseki understands the tremendous sacrifice of servicemen and women and that of their families, and that we can work together to make sure that our veterans receive the world-class care they deserve.”

Year: [2008] , 2007 , 2006

December 2008

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