Senator delays VA nomination for Duckworth

Duckworth, who has been serving as the chief of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, is nominated as assistant VA secretary for intergovernmental affairs, a post that would make her the chief contact between the VA and outside world, including Congress, the media and veterans.

Burr aides said the senator is not blocking her nomination. They described the delay as a matter of paperwork and timing — the committee has had full information on Gould longer than the paperwork on Duckworth, which is why the vote was put off.

Duckworth is an Illinois National Guard major who remained in the Guard despite the fact she lost both legs in Iraq in 2004 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter she was piloting.

Duckworth and Gould testified Wednesday before the Senate committee, which was scheduling a Thursday morning vote on the pair so the full Senate could confirm them before Congress leaves on a two-week break.

Plans changed Wednesday night, sources said. Gould is still on the fast track but Duckworth’s nomination won’t come to a vote until Burr gets answers to some questions, Senate sources said, without specifying exactly what Burr wanted to know.

Duckworth could not be reached for comment.

Arrangements were being made for Duckworth to be sworn in Friday in a ceremony in the same rehabilitation ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where she recovered from her injuries, something Duckworth said was fitting because of “all the time I spent there” and because it would be an inspirational message for other service members recovering from combat wounds.

The swearing-in ceremony can be rescheduled. The Senate will be wrapping up its work on Thursday or Friday and will then take a two-week Easter recess, which means the veterans committee won’t be prepared for another vote before April 21.

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