Politics

Allegations of Excessive Drinking and Hostile Work Environment Delay VA Nominee’s Hearing

Jackson gave Trump clean bill of health in January

Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, leaves the Dirksen Senate Office Building after a meeting with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will delay confirmation hearings for Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, after allegations rose from his past.

An aide with ranking Democrat Jon Tester confirmed to Roll Call that hearings were delayed after Chairman Johnny Isakson told the Washington Post and CNN.

The two also released a statement.

"We take very seriously our constitutional duty to thoroughly and carefully vet each nominee sent to the Senate for confirmation," the joint statement read. "We will continue looking into these serious allegations and have requested additional information from the White House to enable the committee to conduct a full review."

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told The Associated Press that Republicans on the committee wanted the confirmation hearings for Jackson postponed.

“I think there may well be a need for more time, in fairness to Admiral Jackson, so he and the administration have an opportunity to answer these questions fully and fairly,” Blumenthal said.

CBS News reported that ranking Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s staff was reviewing reports of a “hostile work environment” that included “excessive drinking on the job, improperly dispensing meds.”

Asked by CNN if the accusations against Jackson were troubling, Tester said, “Only if true.”

Jackson is currently the White House physician whom Trump announced as his pick to replace VA Secretary David Shulkin last month.

Jackson received national media attention — and some ridicule — in January during a news conference in which he gave Trump a clean bill of health.

Before the past issues came up, Jackson’s selection raised questions about whether he was qualified to lead a major department.

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said a potential issue for Jackson was the fact Jackson only managed a small staff at the White House.

“We’ve got 360,000 people there,” Rounds said of the VA. “Are they going to manage the secretary or is the secretary going to manage the VA?”

 The White House did not respond to request for comment on the new allegations.

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