Feb 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms Denis McDonough as secretary of Veteran Affairs

Denis McDonough, U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) nominee for U.S. President Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing

Denis McDonough speaks during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee confirmation hearing. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The Senate on Monday voted 87-7 to confirm Denis McDonough as the secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Why it matters: McDonough, who has not served in the armed forces, was chief of staff for former President Barack Obama. Before taking on that role in Feb. 2013, he served the Obama administration as deputy national security adviser and chief of staff of the national security staff.

The big picture: McDonough will take over the Department of Veteran Affairs as it seeks to ensure the country's 18 million veterans get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • During his confirmation hearings, McDonough said that Biden has tasked him with focusing "on getting our veterans through this pandemic."
  • McDonough also said that the "Department of Veterans Affairs faces great challenges, challenges made even more daunting by the coronavirus pandemic. Its capabilities have not always risen to the needs of our veterans," per NPR.
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