In a 86-9 vote, the Senate confirmed Robert Wilkie as secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Wilkie is viewed as being an “experienced official” and is currently head of military personnel policy at the Defense Department. He will lead the nation’s second-largest agency with 360,0000 employees.
Wilkie replaces David Shulkin, who was fired in March after he accused political appointees of trying to privatize the VA’s health system.
Wilkie faces a list of challenges at the VA, including implementing new laws, replacing a multibillion dollar electronic health records system, managing the care of 9 million veterans, suicide prevention, cutting the backlog of benefits claims and filling thousands of vacancies for medical professionals, just to name a few.