Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert Wilkie speaks during a meeting with Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 26, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Low-key Washington insider makes a bid to fix struggling VA

June 26, 2018 - 4:17 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Modest and low-key, Robert Wilkie was hastily dispatched to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs after a furious President Donald Trump fired Secretary David Shulkin amid political infighting at the department. But what was supposed to be a temporary job could turn permanent.

If confirmed as VA secretary, the long-time public official could end up steering some of the biggest changes to veterans' health care in decades.

A significant test comes at his Senate hearing Wednesday, where Democrats plan to question the Air Force and Navy veteran on his views on privatizing the government's second-largest department serving 9 million veterans. It's an issue that Shulkin says led to his ouster.

In recent meetings, Wilkie has told several veterans' groups and some lawmakers that he opposed "privatization."

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