WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today voted in the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to support Robert Wilkie’s nomination to serve as Secretary for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Committee voted by voice to support Wilkie. His nomination now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Last month, during a Veterans Committee hearing, Brown secured a commitment from Wilkie that he would oppose any efforts to privatize VA.
“Mr. Wilkie earned the support of veterans and gave me his word that he will oppose efforts to privatize VA,” said Brown. “I look forward to working with Mr. Wilke to strengthen and improve VA to provide the best possible care and benefits to Ohio veterans.”
At the hearing, Wilkie also committed to Brown that he would work with him to move forward with plans to house the VA History, Research, and National Heritage Center at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC). Brown fought for years to bring the history center to Dayton (learn more).
During last month’s hearing, Brown also secured commitments from Wilkie to protect whistleblowers and to acknowledge VA’s obligation to provide medical care and disability compensation for veterans who have been exposed to toxic chemicals. Specifically, Wilkie promised to work with Brown regarding Agent Orange presumptive conditions, Blue Water Navy veterans eligibility for benefits, and establishing a process to diagnose constrictive bronchiolitis, a condition cause by burn pit exposure at VA.
Last month, Brown also met with Wilkie in his office and pressed him on greater transparency and solutions to improve care at VA nursing homes. After USA Today reported that VA nursing facilities in Ohio had only received one- and two- star ratings on a scale of 5, Brown called these secret ratings troubling and introduced an amendment as a part of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act to require VA to submit an annual report to Congress on the ratings given to VA-run nursing homes.
Brown is the longest-serving U.S. Senator from Ohio on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.