Pelosi expreses concern over Shulkin firing

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President Donald Trump is on revamp mission, replacing David Shulkin as secretary of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday and nominated Ronny Jackson, the head of the medical team of the last three leaders.

Robert Wilkie, now the undersecretary of for personnel and readiness at the defence department, will serve as acting secretary for Veterans Affairs while Jackson awaits Senate confirmation, Trump said.

Secretary David Shulkin has blamed his sudden ouster from the Trump administration on "political forces" that he says are bent on privatising the agency and putting "companies with profits" over veterans' care.

Trump said on Twitter.

Jackson, a naval officer, has been a White House physician since George W. Bush's presidency. He later served as a physician to former president Barack Obama, before the Trump administration. Jackson's stock with Trump rose after he pronounced in January that the 71-year-old president was in "excellent" health.

The firing comes after the VA's internal watchdog last month concluded that Shulkin had improperly accepted Wimbledon tennis tickets and that his then chief of staff had doctored emails to justify his wife traveling to Europe with him at taxpayers' expense.

Disabled American Veterans said the departing secretary made "tremendous strides in areas such as appeals modernization, mental health care access and department-wide oversight and accountability" while steering "VA toward sensible, lasting transformation of veterans' health care".

Following the recent departures of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Shulkin is the eighth high profile member of the Trump administration to depart since the beginning of this calendar year.

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President Trump calls him highly trained and qualified, but some lawmakers disagree. Expanding private health care for veterans was a talking point of Trump's on the campaign trail, and a White House priority, and Shulkin's critics have said he was a roadblock to achieving that goal.

As secretary, Shulkin was forced to accept White House picks for key VA staff positions.

Shulkin wrote about his accomplishments during his time at the VA and said it has been his "greatest professional honor" to serve the country's military veterans.

It had also been rumored that Trump was considering current Energy Secretary and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and also Fox News host and former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America Pete Hegseth, for VA Secretary.

Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.

It was a decision that signalled Mr Trump chose to go with someone he knows and trusts, rather than the candidate with the longest resume, to run a massive agency facing huge bureaucratic challenges.

AmVets, a nonpartisan veterans' advocacy group, said Shulkin's removal threatens to undo the "hard-fought progress that's been made so far" to veterans health care under his leadership.

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