Sen. Mike Johanns supports President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Johanns, a Republican member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, says McDonald has the background needed to shake-up the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I really believe in this person. I like him a lot. He’s got an unbelievable resume. I mean, he’s run very large, complex private organizations,” Johanns says. “But I will say this, it is different in a large, complex governmental organization and I speak from experience.”
Johanns served as Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush.
Criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs became widespread after a former VA employee alleged that the Phoenix VA Health Care System falsified records to make it appear that patients had much shorter wait times than they actually faced. A VA inspector general report disclosed several VA hospitals throughout the country followed the same practice.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned over the allegations.
Obama has nominated McDonald to take his place.
During testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, McDonald pledged to work hard during the first 90 days as secretary to address the problems plaguing the VA. McDonald, who is a military veteran, stated the mission was personal for him, siting a number of family members who have served.
Johanns has been harshly critical of the VA for falsifying records and providing poor treatment. Johanns says McDonald will have no time to waste.
“He’s got his work cut out for him, but I’m enthusiastically supportive. I like what he says. I like what he stands for; great background, great experience. We can’t get him confirmed fast enough in my opinion and I just pray that he’ll grab ahold of that department, because they really need leadership.”
Johanns worries problem employees at the VA might just try to run the clock on McDonald, knowing that, at most, he has only the two-and-a-half years left in the Obama Administration to overhaul the VA.
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns comments on Robert McDonald’s nomination as next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. [1:10]