Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., Wednesday expressed doubt about President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, noting David Shulkin is not a veteran.
At his news conference earlier in the day, Trump announced he would nominate Shulkin, currently the VA’s undersecretary of health.
"We looked long and hard,” Trump told reporters at a Trump Tower news conference in New York, adding he had interviewed at least 100 people for the job. Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., had been among the contenders.
If approved by the Senate, Shulkin would be the first Obama administration holdover tapped by Trump.
Moulton, a former Marine and Harvard graduate, expressed reservations about the selection.
Trump indicated at the press conference some VA services could be privatized, talking about deals with institutions like the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.
Moulton, one of the Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People of 2015, is not a go-along, get-along Democrat. He led a challenge in November to Nancy Pelosi’s leadership in the House, calling for new blood to head the Democratic party.
The selection of Shulkin for the VA is at odds with some of Trump’s other Cabinet selections: retired Army Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. John Kelly for homeland security and former Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn for national security adviser.
President Barack Obama named Shulkin to his current post in 2015 and was confirmed unanimously. He has testified about numerous VA scandals
Shulkin, 57, is an internist with 30 years experience at private hospitals. The VA is the nation’s largest health system with 1,700 clinics and hospitals. In his 18 months in office, Shulkin has worked to improve patient access to care.
“I have no doubt Dr. Shulkin will be able to lead the turnaround our Department of Veterans Affairs needs,” Trump said, describing him as an “incredibly gifted doctor.”
“His sole mandate will be to serve our veterans and restore the level of care we owe to our brave men and women in the military,” Trump said. “Sadly our great veterans have not gotten the level of care they deserve, but Dr. Shulkin has the experience and the vision to ensure we will meet the healthcare needs of every veteran.”
“We are both eager to begin reforming the areas in our Veterans Affairs system that need critical attention, and do it in a swift, thoughtful and responsible way,” Shulkin said in a statement.