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Government and Politics

Portman predicts McDonald's confirmation, but says it won't be easy
Ohio's Republican senator expects to introduce President Obama's choice to run the VA

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Portman expects to introduce the VA nominee, Bob McDonald, at his confirmation hearing Tuesday.
Courtesy of File photo, Proctor & Gamble
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In The Region:

The Senate begins its confirmation hearings tomorrow (Tuesday) for the retired Cincinnati business executive who’s been nominated to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs. Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman expects to be introducing Bob McDonald on the Senate floor – and expects he will be confirmed. But as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, he does not expect the hearings will be easy.

LISTEN: Portman on the VA nominee

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President Obama’s nominee to take over Veterans Affairs has the support of both Democrats and Republicans, including Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman. 

Like Portman, McDonald’s base is in southwest Ohio, where he worked for Proctor & Gamble for more than 30 years, the last four as its chief executive.

Portman expects McDonald’s lack of government experience – and status as a West Point grad and veteran – will be pluses. But he also says McDonald should expect tough questions and a tougher task. 

“I think his challenge when he gets there is going to be really the same challenge in this hearing, which is coming up with sensible ways to provide for a different culture in the VA. Right now, there’s a huge problem, where you don’t have accountability, where you don’t have the ability to hire and fire people who are creating these horrible conditions for our veterans.”

Obama nominated McDonald after reports of falsified wait times and other problems forced former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. 

Listener Comments:

I sent the following note to Senator Blumenthal after reading commentary from yesterday's hearing:
You certainly have the right to ask Mr. McDonald questions concerning his qualifications to head the VA. However, Senator, I believe you would, as a schooled lawyer, recognize he is a well qualified executive manager who has been the CEO of one of the world's largest and best managed firms. In that capacity, he has managed thousands of employees and tens of thousands of shareholders including many sophisticated institutional investors. I would say you qualify as an institutional investor. However, I would suggest you let this candidate, if mandated to manage the VA, do the job and stop your meddling re responding to a letter you wrote asking questions. Give the manager the tools to do the job and get out of the way. If he does not perform, fire him, but get out of the way in the interim. He knows what has to be done and I, as a person who is proud to say I am a veteran, wants you and the other meddlers who have never run a major company to let him do his job. This is one of the principal problems with Washington; you people want to meddle. To facilitate this, you generally do not hire accomplished managers the likes of Mr. McDonald. Instead, you anoint folks who do not have the necessary experience to hire and fire. You should be seeking ways to change the rules so that qualified executives would be willing to accept responsible positions and do the job.

Posted by: John (Roach) on July 23, 2014 10:07AM
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