Veterans Affairs modernizes mission statement based on Lincoln’s line
For decades, the mission statement of Veterans Affairs Department came from a line from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address on March 4, 1865 — “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan" — a phrase adopted by the department in 1959.washingtonpost.com
VA plans limited abortion access to vets, despite state bans
The Department of Veterans Affairs says it will provide abortion access to veterans and their beneficiaries in cases when the pregnant woman's life or health is at risk, or in cases of rape or incest — even in states that have made abortions illegal.
Senators kill sweeping plan to reshape sprawling VA health-care system
VA would finally catch up to modern private hospitals, saving billions of dollars from it spends each year to shore up its aging health-care facilities, proponents of the plan argued. AdvertisementThe lawmakers indicated that the politically explosive recommendations VA made in March made moving forward impractical. She noted that the median age of VA hospitals is nearly 60 years. Robert Wilkie, President Donald Trump’s second VA secretary, also expressed disappointment with this week’s decision. Veterans’ care will be degraded by a lack of technology and unsanitary conditions while construction costs go through the roof.”GiftOutline Gift Articlewashingtonpost.com
Federal unions praise Biden but say some agencies hold onto Trump's anti-labor policies
At the annual gathering of the American Federation of Government Employees, one of the biggest federal unions, leaders were full of praise for Biden's pro-union moves — but also slammed two agencies for holding onto Trump's anti-labor edicts.washingtonpost.com
VA reveals sweeping plan to shutter aging clinics, hospitals in favor of new facilities, retooled services
Overall, VA’s reliance on inpatient care would taper off as the system catches up to an outpatient model that private hospitals moved toward decades ago. According to the agency’s budget submission to Congress for fiscal 2022, the health system needs $61.6 billion worth of construction today. “These facilities were not designed to meet modern health care standards, which limits VA’s agility and ability to meet evolving Veteran care needs, and basic environment of care expectations,” the report said. All of these shifts “will have significant effects on health care planning efforts,” the report said. VA has redirected billions of dollars from veterans’ hospitals to private health-care providers in recent years in a controversial transformation.washingtonpost.com
American Rescue Plan will reduce backlog of compensation and pension claims "by more than half," Veterans Affairs secretary says
American Rescue Plan will reduce backlog of compensation and pension claims "by more than half," Veterans Affairs secretary says The United States Department of Veterans Affairs saw its backlog of compensation and pension claims rise from 76,000 in March 2020 to more than 200,000 this month. Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough joins CBSN's "Red & Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano with more on how President Biden's American Rescue Plan will help reduce the backlog, and how the department is preparing for a surge of requests for medical care from veterans who may have postponed treatment during the pandemic.cbsnews.com
GOP Sen. Thom Tillis diagnosed with prostate cancer, will have surgery next week
Sen. Thom Tillis has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery next week to treat it, he announced Monday. "I am in the hands of outstanding medical professionals and expect to make a full recovery," the North Carolina Republican said in a statement. Tillis traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border last week with a group of Republican senators. It is unclear whether Tillis will miss any votes in the Senate, where each major party holds 50 seats. Before winning election to the Senate in 2014, Tillis served as speaker in the North Carolina state House.cnbc.com
Senate confirms former Obama chief of staff to oversee VA
Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee Denis McDonough speaks during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Pool via AP)WASHINGTON – The Senate has overwhelmingly voted to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Senate confirmed Denis McDonough as VA secretary by a vote of 87-7 on Monday. McDonough will oversee a sprawling agency that has presented organizational challenges for both parties over the years. McDonough replaces Robert Wilkie, who served as VA secretary under President Donald Trump.
Confronting a legacy of racism at the Department of Veterans Affairs
Confronting a legacy of racism at the Department of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough is poised to become the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, pending a full confirmation vote from the Senate. One issue he’s likely to face is pressure to address the department’s legacy of racism. Jasper Craven, a freelance investigative reporter, joined “CBSN AM” to discuss.cbsnews.com
Biden's challenge: Building Cabinet that meets all his goals
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)WASHINGTON – Shortly after President-elect Joe Biden’s victory last month, Cabinet hopeful Marcia Fudge pointedly noted that Black people are often typecast into positions such as housing secretary. He’s pledged to nominate the most diverse Cabinet in history and restore experience at beleaguered federal agencies. The GOP has barely acknowledged Biden's victory so the cooperation of its senators in the confirmation process is far from certain. “That’s why we are worried.”One prominent feature of Biden’s picks so far: deep ties to the Obama administration. Brent Colburn, a former Obama administration official who served in several agencies, encouraged Democrats to consider the bigger picture as they judge Biden's Cabinet.
American Legion, Pelosi joining calls for VA chief's ouster
“It is unfair to expect accountability from the nearly 400,000 VA employees and not demand the same from its top executive. Wilkie and other senior officials had declined to fully cooperate with the investigation by VA Inspector General Michael Missal. Wilkie is Trump’s second VA secretary after David Shulkin was fired in 2018. President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to rebuild trust in the VA when he takes office on Jan. 20. He has selected Denis McDonough, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, to be VA secretary.
Vets groups demand Wilkie's dismissal after scathing audit
“The accountability, professionalism and respect that our veterans have earned, and quite frankly deserve, is completely lost in this current VA leadership team,” said B.J. Wilkie and other senior officials had declined to fully cooperate with the investigation by VA Inspector General Michael Missal. Wilkie is President Donald Trump’s second VA secretary after David Shulkin was fired in 2018. “VA can and must do better,” said Randy Reese, executive director of Disabled American Veterans’ Washington headquarters. He has selected Denis McDonough, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, to be VA secretary.
Biden: Cabinet picks from Obama era mean 'bold new thinking'
Susan Rice, the Biden administration's choice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. His choice for agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, served in the same post for Obama for eight years. Above all, they know how government should and can work for all Americans.”Relying too heavily on Obama administration veterans has already begun to draw some grumbling from members of Biden's own party, however. Mark Riddle, a Democratic strategist who founded a pro-Biden Super PAC during the 2020 presidential campaign, said there is no danger in relying too heavily on “all star” former Obama administration leaders. “If we come out of the box on jobs, jobs, jobs, I feel great.
Obama reunion? Biden fills Cabinet with former WH leaders
Increasingly deep into the process of selecting Cabinet members and other senior staff, the incoming Biden administration has a distinctly Obama feel. There's Denis McDonough, former President Barack Obama's chief of staff who Biden announced on Thursday would be nominated as the secretary of veterans affairs. Susan Rice, Obama's former national security adviser, was named the director of Biden's White House Domestic Policy Council. Jeff Zients, who did stints as acting Office of Management and Budget director and a top economic adviser in the Obama White House, will return as Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator. They're pressing Biden to focus in particular on the diversity of his Cabinet after several early picks were white men.
Watchdog faults VA chief over handling of sex assault report
“The response of Secretary Wilkie and senior VA officials to the veteran’s complaint of sexual assault was troubling,” Missal said in a statement. “The tone set by Secretary Wilkie appears to have influenced aspects of the initial VA police investigation and the conduct of other VA employees,” the report said. On Thursday, Biden said he will nominate Denis McDonough, who served as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, to be VA secretary. VA officials did not examine the information, the report said. A study released by the VA last year found 1 in 4 female veterans using VA health care reported inappropriate comments by male veterans on VA grounds.
Biden picks more Obama veterans for key roles: Denis McDonough at VA and Susan Rice as domestic advisor
McDonough's selection was unveiled amid the latest batch of new additions to key posts in the upcoming Biden administration, which will also include former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice as director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. McDonough, 51, had served as Obama's chief of staff for the entirety of the former president's second term in office. McDonough had previously been Obama's deputy national security advisor, as well as the chief of staff of the National Security Council. Rice, 56, an alumna of the administrations of Obama and former President Bill Clinton, will not require confirmation by the Senate to serve as domestic policy director in Biden's White House. She served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. from 2009 until 2013, when she was selected as Obama's national security advisor.cnbc.com
AP source: Emanuel's Cabinet prospects increasingly unlikely
WASHINGTON – Rahm Emanuel’s chances of landing a top Cabinet post in Joe Biden's administration appear increasingly unlikely after the former Chicago mayor emerged as a source of controversy for the president-elect, who had been considering Emanuel for transportation secretary, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. Al Sharpton raised similar concerns during a meeting with Biden and other civil rights leaders, the person said. The person was not authorized to publicly discuss private deliberations and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. An announcement on transportation secretary is not believed to be imminent. Two other high profile Obama-era alumni were announced Thursday as joining the Biden administration — Denis McDonough as veterans' affairs secretary and Susan Rice to head the Domestic Policy Council.
Biden picks former Obama chief of staff McDonough for VA
FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2013, file photo, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough listens as President Barack Obama speaks at FBI Headquarters in Washington. President-elect Joe Biden is nominating former President Barack Obama's White House chief of staff Denis McDonough as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Biden is continuing to stockpile his administration with prominent alumni of the Obama administration. The bill came about following exposes during the Obama administration into mismanagement at some VA hospitals and mounting complaints by advocacy groups. As chief of staff, McDonough was also deeply involved in an overhaul of VA leadership after the scandals, which led to the ouster of the department’s secretary.
Psaki, next White House press secretary, a veteran messenger
FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2011, file photo Jen Psaki is seen in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. Much of that work will fall to Jen Psaki, Biden's pick for White House press secretary. “This job becomes one of the most recognizable people representing both the administration and the government writ large,” said Robert Gibbs, a former Obama press secretary. Both the president and his media team were frequently at odds with White House reporters while routinely spreading falsehoods. A native of Stamford, Connecticut, and a graduate of William & Mary, Psaki is part of an all-female senior communications team for the Biden White House.
Biden looks to rehire diplomats and others fired by Trump to rebuild the State Department
Now Thomas-Greenfield is back, leading President-elect Joe Biden’s State Department transition team to restore the department’s devastated morale. The number of young potential diplomats taking the entrance exam for the foreign service plummeted from 20,000 in the early Obama years to fewer than 5,000 now. The policies that a revived State Department will tackle include reentering multilateral global efforts that Trump eschewed, such as the Paris climate accord and Iran nuclear deal. Many former State Department workers are expected to eagerly return to their jobs, particularly under an administration that values their work. Countryman received his pink slip while he was traveling in Jordan on State Department business.latimes.com
Biden moves forward without help from Trump's intel team
As he contests this year's election results, Trump has not authorized President-elect Joe Biden to lay eyes on the brief. National security and intelligence experts hope Trump changes his mind, citing the need for an incoming president to be fully prepared to confront any national security issues on Day One. That's the type of information that might be in the PDB, a daily summary of high-level, classified information and analysis on national security issues that's been offered to presidents since 1946. It is coordinated and delivered by the Office of the National Intelligence Director with input from the CIA and other agencies. Biden is missing out on all counts: More than a week into his transition, Biden doesn't have access to the PDB, the agencies or government resources to help him get ready to take charge.
Trump's silent public outing belies White House in tumult
Trump's appearance Wednesday at the annual Veterans Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery was his first public outing for official business in more than a week. Staff working from the White House thinned out after chief of staff Mark Meadows confirmed last week that he had tested positive for the virus. Outside the White House, one prominent former ally turned Trump critic warned that the president was doing potentially irreparable damage to the Republican Party. White House spokesman Judd Deere said he was “not aware” of any communications between the White House and the GSA administrator on ascertainment. The Biden transition team has published an ethics plan and the Trump administration earlier established a White House Transition Coordinating Council as required by law.
Republican senators push for Biden to receive intelligence
The Senate Republicans advocated for Biden to receive the classified national security information even as they refused to acknowledge that the Democrat has won the presidential election, citing Trump's baseless claims of fraudulent votes. “At this point at least, I think he should absolutely be getting intelligence briefings," Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said of Biden. While only a handful of Republicans have called Biden the president-elect, most were comfortable Thursday challenging the Trump administration on withholding intelligence information, which could constitute a national security risk when Biden assumes office. Intelligence agencies have given generalized intelligence briefings — minus information on covert operations and sources and methods — for presidential nominees since 1952. Biden, a former vice president, has decades of experience in foreign affairs and national security.
In VP search, Biden has a known quantity in Susan Rice
FILE - In this Dec. 15, 2010, file photo Vice President Joe Biden, center, and Susan Rice, the U.S. The 55-year-old has a long pedigree in foreign policy, but has never held elected office. She has also been a lightning rod for criticism from Republicans, who contend she put politics ahead of national security. 2 who could shoulder much of the early workload on foreign policy while Biden focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and reviving the economy. His entire theory of politics is personal relationships, Ben Rhodes, who served as Obamas deputy national security adviser, said of Biden.
Denis McDonough on Copenhagen attack: "We abhor this"
Denis McDonough on Copenhagen attack: "We abhor this" In an interview to air on CBS' "Face the Nation," White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says the U.S. will not let stand attacks like the deadly shooting at a cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark. Bob Schieffer's full interview with McDonough will be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.cbsnews.com
White House downplays U.S.-Israel tensions
White House downplays U.S.-Israel tensions White House chief of staff Denis McDonough says America's relationship with Israel is "above partisan politics," despite tensions created by a planned address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.cbsnews.com
White House chief of staff: President will use veto power if he has to
White House chief of staff: President will use veto power if he has to Ahead of tonight's State of the Union address, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough spoke with "CBS This Morning" about the president's tax proposals and the prospects for wielding veto power against the GOP-controlled Congress.cbsnews.com
White House chief of staff: Obama focused on doing everything to help middle class succeed
White House chief of staff: Obama focused on doing everything to help middle class succeed President Obama's Chief of Staff Denis McDonough joins "CBS This Morning" from the White House to discuss the president's mindset going into Tuesday's State of the Union address.cbsnews.com
May 18: McDonough, Dellinger, Bloomberg, Geithner
May 18: McDonough, Dellinger, Bloomberg, Geithner The latest on the departure of Veterans Affairs official Robert Petzel, New York City's 9/11 museum, and a potential 2016 run by Hillary Clinton with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and more.cbsnews.com
This is Face the Nation, May 18
This is Face the Nation, May 18 The latest on the departure of Veterans Affairs official Robert Petzel, New York City’s 9/11 museum, and a potential 2016 run by Hillary Clinton with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and more.cbsnews.com