Senate VA panel chairman: Ronny Jackson hearing set for April 25

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, whose path to become the next Veterans Affairs secretary remains unclear, will go before the Veterans Affairs’ committee April 25, according to committee chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The Georgia Republican confirmed the date as he emerged from a meeting with Jackson in the senator’s office. Jackson said he was feeling “good” ahead of the confirmation process, but he declined to answer further questions from the media.

Isakson’s office later said the hearing is “tentatively” scheduled for April 25 and won’t be official until a notice is sent seven days prior to the hearing. The White House formally sent the nomination to the Senate on Monday.

“The VA needs a leader who is able to work with Congress to implement legislative solutions and oversee a large and multifaceted department,” Isakson said in a statement. “I congratulate Dr. Jackson on his nomination, and I look forward to chairing his confirmation hearing and learning more about his plans for the VA.”

President Donald Trump’s pick of Jackson, the President’s physician, received scrutiny from some lawmakers and veterans groups due to Jackson’s lack of experience in public policy or management. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the government’s second largest agency.

In an interview with the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, a newspaper located near Jackson’s hometown of Levelland, Texas, Jackson said earlier this month that he has “what it takes” to lead the department.

“I’ve been in leadership school for 23 years now. … And I’ve been able to rise to the level of an admiral, a flag officer in the Navy. I didn’t just stumble into that. So I’ve gotten a lot of leadership background.”

Sen. Patty Murray, the second-ranking Democrat on the VA committee, is set to meet with Jackson on Tuesday.

“I want to know that he’s going to oppose privatization, not privatize the VA. And I want to know how he’s going to manage one of our largest agencies,” Murray told CNN. “I am not going to prejudge him. I will give him an opportunity to answer my questions, but I have serious concerns.”

If confirmed, Jackson would succeed David Shulkin, who left his position last month after he said the White House fired him.