The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Tuesday advanced Robert Wilkie's nomination to serve as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Wilkie's nomination was approved by a voice vote, and it will now be considered by the full Senate. If approved by the Senate, Wilkie would only require the President's signature. President Trump praised Wilkie in May.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) was the lone opposition. It marked the first time in committee history a member voted against a VA secretary nominee, Military Times reports.
“This has less to do with Mr. Wilkie than President Trump,” Sanders said following the vote, according to Military Times. “Trump has been very clear about his desire to move to the privatization of the VA, and I suspect any of his appointees will try and move the agency in that direction.”
Wilkie, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve, has more than 20 years of experience. He has promised to improve access to health care in rural areas, decrease patient wait times and protect the agency from privatization. The VA has 1,700 centers that care for 9 million people.