Ronny Jackson’s VA nomination on the rocks

Ronny Jackson’s VA nomination on the rocks

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson’s nomination to be Veterans Affairs secretary may be in trouble, according to senators and aides in both parties.

Republicans are considering postponing his confirmation hearing this week as senators pore over potentially new negative information that committee members have received, according to GOP sources familiar with the matter. And Senate Democrats are digging into his record after being made aware of potential new problems with the nomination.

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On Monday evening, committee Democrats huddled in the Capitol office of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, the top committee Democrat, to plot strategy.

“There’s a need for very exacting and close scrutiny and vetting,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) after the meeting. “And some questions that need to be answered. I’m not going to comment on any of the specifics, except to say we’re going to be doing very close and careful scrutiny.”

Republicans and Democrats alike have been talking over the weekend, and in person on Monday, about the potential for allegations to derail Jackson’s nomination, senators said. But the nature of discussions now going on about the material is “conversational,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

Tillis suggested that the Jackson confirmation hearing scheduled for Wednesday may be "pushed back pending a review of some of this stuff that, like I said, I’ve only heard on a conversational basis. I think that’s where we’ll spend our time this week."

Jackson is President Donald Trump’s physician at the White House and is already facing major questions from Republicans over his lack of experience managing an agency as large as the VA. If he faces additional problems, his nomination could be derailed entirely.

“I would like to hear what he has to say about that. I’m not sure anybody can run the VA. It’s so big,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and listen to him and hear what he has in mind.”

Axios was first to report that new information about Jackson’s “professional conduct” was taken to Tester earlier this month.

Democrats declined to comment on the severity of the allegations that have been presented to the committee about Jackson.

“We’re going to vet him. The Trump administration doesn’t do a particularly good job,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), another committee member. "That’s all I’m going to say."

Spokespeople for the committee did not comment on whether Jackson’s hearing has been postponed. But a Republican working on the nomination said it was unlikely the hearing would take place pending review of the new information, though that source cautioned that few have seen the documents rattling the nomination.

“You have to be concerned about any nomination” in a closely divided Senate, the Republican said.

Republicans currently hold just 51 seats and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is recovering from cancer treatment, leaving them no margin for error if Democrats unify to oppose the nomination.

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