Sunday, July 29, 2018
See how long this lasts
The new head of Veterans Affairs has a plan to improve the Dept. It involves getting rid of Trumpoons currently poisoning the department.
In one of his first acts as President Trump’s Veterans Affairs secretary, Robert Wilkie intends to reassign several high-ranking political appointees at the center of the agency’s ongoing morale crisis and staffing exodus, according to three people familiar with his plans.It all sounds good but will it be allowed to stand?
Wilkie, who will be sworn in Monday, wants to form his own leadership team, these people say, and to ease lawmakers’ continued concern that VA, historically a nonpartisan corner of the government, has become highly politicized. He discussed the proposed personnel moves with Trump in recent days aboard Air Force One, while en route to a veterans convention in Kansas City, Mo., said an official close to the White House who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
Announcements could come as soon as this week, pending approval from the White House Personnel Office.
Carla Gleason, a spokeswoman for Wilkie, declined to comment on specific reassignments, saying in an email this past week that “any leadership changes will be announced next week.” VA officials referred a request for comment to the White House press office, which did not respond.
John Hoellwarth, communications director for AMVETS, an advocacy group with more than 250,000 members, praised Wilkie for acting quickly to ensure that VA “is driven by a desire to serve veterans first.”
“Over the last year at VA, widely publicized internal political turmoil among senior officials has gotten in the way of serving veterans,” Hoellwarth said, “and it seems like Wilkie is acting decisively to stamp that out on his watch.”
The changes would sideline much of VA’s interim leadership team under acting secretary Peter O’Rourke, who drew unfavorable reviews from lawmakers in both political parties following a dispute with the agency’s inspector general and a Washington Post report that highlighted O’Rourke’s efforts to purge civil servants and some political appointees whom he and others installed by Trump deemed unsupportive of the president’s agenda.
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