Tester: Nominees Must Stand With Veterans as Special Interests Threaten VA

Senator Grills Two Nominees as Dark Money Interests Fight ‘For the Very Soul of the VA’

(U.S. Senate) – Saying special interests are threatening the “very soul of the VA,” Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Jon Tester today grilled two nominees for critical positions tasked with connecting veterans and their families with the benefits they earned.

Tester pushed Paul Lawrence, nominee to be VA Under Secretary for Benefits, to stand with veterans against special interests who undermine the VA’s ability to do right by veterans. Tester also questioned whether Lawrence will be transparent and work with Tester on his oversight of the VA.

“The VA needs leaders who are ready, willing and capable of helping lead a multi-faceted Agency and put the needs of veterans ahead of anything else,” said Tester. “There is dark money fighting for the very soul of the VA. Veterans need folks at the VA ready to stand with them against these dark special interests. There will be tough times ahead, and I need to know whether you are ready for them.”

Tester recently took the VA to task over its decision to prolong the Trump Administration’s hiring freeze. He questioned Mr. Lawrence’s support of the VA’s announcement that it will require more bureaucratic hurdles for facilities to hire front line positions responsible for delivering care and benefits to veterans.

Tester also asked Joseph Falvey, nominee to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, what he will do to help veterans receive quicker decisions on their appeals.

“Mr. Falvey, I want to emphasize how important it is to me that veterans get expedient and fair reviews of their cases,” Tester continued. “The Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims provides an avenue for that, but it faces challenges with issuing timely decisions. So the question of the day is whether you can build on the court’s successes and continue delivering timely justice for veterans and their families.”

More information about each nominee can be found online HERE.