Dr. Ronny Jackson speaks to reporters at the White House on Jan. 16, 2018. The White House withdrew his nomination to become the next Veterans Affairs secretary on April 26, 2018. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Congressman Turner urges Trump to pick ‘well-qualified’ VA secretary

By Jack Torry

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - On the same day Admiral Ronny Jackson withdrew from consideration as secretary of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Rep. Mike Turner Thursday urged President Donald Trump to nominate a “well-qualified leader” to head the troubled agency.

“Having one of the most historical VA Centers in our community makes it clear to us how important leadership at the VA can be,” said Turner, R-Dayton. “Our men and women in uniform have sacrificed greatly to serve our nation honorably.”

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Turner said in a statement the VA “must be headed by a well-qualified leader.”

Critics charged Jackson was unqualified for the job of directing an agency with 360,000 employees. Just this week allegations swirled that Jackson had been drinking during working hours, charges which Jackson Thursday dismissed as “false allegations.”

Other Ohio lawmakers reacted even more sharply, with Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles calling Trump’s decision to nominate Jackson this month as “irresponsible.” Trump tapped Jackson to replace David Shulkin, who had been fired last month by the White House.

“The president’s inability to take this process seriously is a slap in the face to our nation’s veterans,” Ryan said. “Nominating your personal physician to run the VA, without proper vetting and experience, is irresponsible.”

“The president needs to put his phone down, stop tweeting, and start taking care of the people’s business,” Ryan said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, a member of the Senate Veterans Affair Committee, said Trump needs to quickly nominate a new secretary, charging “this chaos caused by the White House has gone on too long already, and we can’t let it get in the way of the VA’s critical mission.”

In an interview on CNBC, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Jackson “probably made the right decision,” saying “it wasn’t clear he had the votes.”

“It would have been a tough battle for him,” Portman said.

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