Shinseki confirmation hearing on fast track

TheconfirmationhearingforretiredArmyGen.EricShinsekitoleadtheVeteransAffairsDepartmentwillbeJan.14,theSenateVeterans’AffairsCommitteechairmanannouncedTuesdaynight.
Sen.DanielAkaka,D-Hawaii,thecommitteechairman,saidhe“scheduledthehearingearlyinthenewCongresssothattheSenatecanactonthenominationassoonasitisreceived.”
Ifeverythinggoesasplanned,theveterans’committeewouldquestionShinsekiduringtheJan.14hearingandthenvoteonthenominationasearlyastheafternoonofJan.20,afterObamaisswornintooffice.ThefullSenatethencouldvoteonfinalconfirmation.ThatcouldalsohappenonJan.20,althoughSenateleadershavenotyetannouncedascheduleforvotes.
Shinseki,theformerArmychiefofstaffwhoretiredin2003afteradisagreementwiththeBushadministration’sestimatesabouthowmanytroopswouldbeneededforthewarinIraq,appearstohavestrongsupportfromveteransservicesorganizationsandbipartisansupportinCongress.EventhecurrentVAsecretary,Dr.JamesPeake,hasthrowninhissupport.
Peake,aformerArmysurgeongeneral,workedforShinsekiwhenShinsekiwastheArmy’sleaderandsaidheis“proudtocounthimasafriend.”
“Heisasoldierwhohasdedicatedhislifetoservingthisnation.Heknowsservicemenandwomen,heknowslargeorganizationsandheknowsWashington,”Peakesaid.“Gen.Shinsekiwillbeagreatleaderforthemandastrongadvocateforourveterans.”
AlsobackingShinsekiistheAmericanFederationofGovernmentEmployees,whichrepresentsmorethan150,000VAworkers.
PickingShinseki“representsaclearbreakfromthepasteightyearsinwhichtheBushadministrationsoughttodismantletheVAthroughtheuseoffee-basedcontractcareandundercuttheagencybycontinuallyunderstaffingandunderfundingtheagency,”theunionsaysinastatement.“Webelievethatasaveteran,retiredArmyGen.Shinsekiunderstandsthetremendoussacrificeofservicemenandwomenandthatoftheirfamilies,andthatwecanworktogethertomakesurethatourveteransreceivetheworld-classcaretheydeserve.”


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