In Impassioned Senate Floor Speech, Tester Rails Against Delay for Four Qualified, Bipartisan Nominees to Lead VA, Including a Montanan

Chairman blasts partisan hold on President Biden’s picks: “The bottom line is if we want a VA that can function, then we’ve got to have it staffed up”

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(U.S. Senate) – In an impassioned speech on the Senate floor today, Chairman Jon Tester of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee urged his colleagues to put aside party politics and confirm four pending Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) nominees, including the agency’s number two official, following a partisan hold on their confirmations.

“This doesn’t impact me,” said Tester. “But it impacts the veterans in my state—some 100,000 of them. One in ten Montanans. And it impacts veterans all across this country. We can sit here and play these games—holding up nominees to fill critical Departments—and we can play them, play them, play them again. But if you’re doing that on behalf of the veterans, that is bull.”

Tester continued on the importance of VA staffing to address toxic exposure, saying: “And by the way, we’re still not done with Agent Orange—hypertension and MGUS, which is in this bill. [Veterans] will die. Some more of them will die. We send our young people off to war, they come back changed, and we don’t have the guts to step up and debate the bill?”

Last month, Tester led the Committee in unanimously advancing President Joe Biden’s picks to serve the nation’s second largest federal agency, including Donald M. Remy to be Deputy Secretary of VA, General Matthew T. Quinn to be Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs, Maryanne Donaghy to be Assistant Secretary for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, and Patricia Ross to be Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs.

In his remarks, the Senator also highlighted his colleague’s hypocrisy in bemoaning understaffing and lack of communication with Congress at VA, while holding up the process for individuals who would directly address those issues.

Tester continued, “If we want to hold the VA accountable today, in a situation where we’re coming out of a pandemic, this is not the way to do it. The bottomline is if we want a VA that can function, then we’ve got to have it staffed up.”

Video of Tester's full speech can be found HERE.