WASHINGTON – 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."