WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed Bob McDonald as the next Veterans Affairs secretary, pinning Washington’s hopes on the former Procter & Gamble Co chief executive to launch a massive turnaround effort at the troubled agency.
McDonald, 61, replaces former Army general Eric Shinseki, who resigned in late May amid a scandal over cover-ups of long waiting times for health care appointments at VA hospitals and clinics across the country.
The 97-0 vote to confirm McDonald comes a week after he pledged to bring corporate-style discipline and accountability to the agency, refocusing its 341,000 employees on serving veterans.
McDonald, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who served as P&G CEO from 2009 to 2013, is widely expected to start his new job with an extra $17 billion at his disposal to reduce months-long health care wait times in new legislation slated for passage by Congress this week.
The compromise measure reached by the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives Veterans Affairs committees on Monday would allow veterans forced to wait more than 30 days for an appointment to seek care from private doctors at VA expense. It also will provide $5 billion for the VA to pay for doctors and nurses.
McDonald retired at P&G, best known as the maker of Tide detergent, Gillette razors and Crest toothpaste, amid a major corporate restructuring as some institutional investors had pushed for faster improvements in profits and better stock performance. The company brought back McDonald’s predecessor, Alan Lafley, to serve as its chairman and chief executive. (Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by James Dalgleish)