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Trump could tap former House VA committee chair Jeff Miller for VA Secretary, report says

Former House Veterans Affairs committee chair Jeff Miller (YouTube)
April 30, 2018

Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson withdrew his nomination for Veterans Affairs secretary on Thursday, and President Trump is now considering possible replacements to head to the VA.

On the top of that list is likely former House Veterans Affairs committee chair Jeff Miller, it was reported last week.

A senior White House official revealed that the President is seriously considering the retired Florida congressman, who has become a major advocate for veterans in recent years.

Miller, a Republican, helped push a $16 million bipartisan VA reform bill through Congress in 2014. He also contributed to Trump’s 10-point plan for veterans’ reform efforts during the Presidential campaign.

Trump said during his recent Fox & Friends phone interview that he was already looking at someone with “political capabilities” for the position, though he declined to specifically identify anyone.

A different White House official also confirmed that the President’s decision will likely take some time.

“He may have somebody in mind, but I know that an official nominee is not imminent,” said the senior White House official. “It’s not going to be this week, maybe not even next week.”

The official did confirm that the list of individuals Trump was considering before picking Jackson is also “being refreshed.”

Someone else under possible consideration could be Robert Wilkie, Military Times reported on Thursday, who is the current acting VA secretary, following Trump’s firing of David Shulkin.

Wilkie also serves as the Defense Department’s under secretary for personnel and readiness and has received positive reviews from his peers.

VA Spokesman Curt Cashier said: “Under Acting Secretary Wilkie’s leadership, senior VA officials are now on the same page, speaking with one voice to veterans, employees and outside stakeholders,” and that the department is “now firmly aligned with President Trump and his priorities.”

The President may also select someone like Rick Perry, who has publicly stated that he is not interested in the job, but would likely be a safe pick for the administration.

Perry was easily confirmed as energy secretary last year in a vote of 62 to 37, and his stances on private sector care for veterans and government spending cuts align with Trump’s policies. He has also remained largely out of the limelight in an administration riddled with controversy.

However, Trump may once again pick someone rather unexpected, similar to how Jackson’s nomination was largely a surprise.

The President is known for selecting from an unconventional pool of candidates, and this pattern could continue.

Trump has routinely said he “chooses only the best people for [his] administration” and will likely spend some time ensuring his next nominee for VA is a top-notch candidate.