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Senate panel unanimously endorses Veterans Affairs nominee Robert McDonald

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    FILE - This June 2014 file photo shows President Barack Obama shaking hands with former Procter and Gamble executive Robert McDonald, his nominee as the next Veterans Affairs secretary, at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington. A federal investigative agency says it is examining 67 claims of retaliation by supervisors at the VA against employees who filed whistleblower complaints. The independent Office of Special Counsel said 30 of the complaints about retaliation have passed the initial review stage and were being further investigated for corrective action and possible discipline against VA supervisors and other executives. The group’s report comes as the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee holds a hearing Tuesday on the nomination of Robert McDonald to be VA secretary. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald of Ohio is flanked by Sens. Sherrod Brown, (D., Ohio), left, and Rob Portman, (R., Ohio), right, ahead of a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearings to examine his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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    Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald of Ohio flanked by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, right, listen during a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearings to examine his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo)

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

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Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Robert McDonald of Ohio is flanked by Sens. Sherrod Brown, (D., Ohio), left, and Rob Portman, (R., Ohio), right, ahead of a Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee hearings to examine his nomination to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON — The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today endorsed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald to be the new secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The panel’s unanimously vote came one day after a nomination hearing in which he faced no opposition.

Senators said they are eager for McDonald to begin work at the beleaguered agency, which has been plagued by treatment delays and falsified records at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.

McDonald, 61, of Cincinnati, has pledged to “transform” the VA and address a series of “systematic failures,” including patient access to health care, transparency, accountability and integrity.

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chairman of the Senate veterans panel, said the full Senate could vote on McDonald’s nomination as soon as this week.

McDonald told the Senate panel that if confirmed by the Senate, he will take a series of actions over his first 90 days “to deliver the needed reforms our veterans deserve.”

He plans to lay out a veteran-centered vision for the department and improve communication within the vast agency, which includes more than 300,000 employees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, McDonald said. His plan includes frequent video conferences with employees and extensive travel to field offices around the country, he said.

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