February 08, 2021

Van Hollen Statement in Support of Denis McDonough to Serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement regarding his vote to confirm Denis McDonough to serve as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs:

“Today, I enthusiastically cast my vote in support of Denis McDonough’s confirmation to serve as our next Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mr. McDonough brings to this position a wealth of experience. From his time at the White House as a member of the National Security Council and the Chief of Staff, he knows how to solve tough problems, break down bureaucratic silos, and deliver results.

“As the VA Secretary, Mr. McDonough will face a host of new challenges brought on by COVID-19. I appreciate his commitment to addressing these issues head-on, including the need to lead an aggressive effort to vaccinate veterans and their health care providers, ensure that claims are processed in a timely manner, and review the proposed rule on VA home loans exiting COVID-19 forbearance.

“In addition to the immediate challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, I know that one of Mr. McDonough’s priorities is to tackle the structural needs of the VA. To that effect, I am pleased that Mr. McDonough has already promised to defend the VA health care system against efforts at privatization. Additionally, I am grateful for Mr. McDonough’s assurances that he will act assertively to create a culture of zero tolerance toward sexual harassment and assault in the Department. This is of particular importance after a VA Inspector General’s report found that his predecessor engaged in active measures to discredit a congressional staffer who reported that she was sexually assaulted at a VA Medical Center. We must ensure that our women veterans are treated with dignity and respect at all VA facilities.

“I also want to applaud Mr. McDonough’s pledge to make ending veteran homelessness a national priority. My home state of Maryland has been a national leader in this effort. Montgomery County, Maryland, effectively ended veteran homelessness in 2015, and the Veterans Village in Perryville is creating a model for using VASH vouchers to build supportive communities that house and provide services to homeless veterans. The state is also moving forward with an aggressive effort to build a second veterans home in Sykesville. I trust that we will have the same level of urgency from the VA under Secretary McDonough – and I look forward to continuing the partnership on these efforts. 

“The Department of Veterans Affairs provides crucial services and care for our nation’s 18 million veterans, but the VA must do much more to ensure that the care that it provides is worthy of those who served our country. I believe that Mr. McDonough’s experience has prepared him well to continue that effort, and I support his nomination.”