The confirmation process for President Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs should continue, if the nominee "chooses to go ahead," Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said Wednesday.
White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson's nomination was immediately met with criticism for his lack of experience in running a bureaucracy, but has more recently drawn ire over allegations of creating a hostile work environment and excessive drinking while on overseas trips with former President Barack Obama.
"I'm not on the Veterans Affairs committee. So I think we ought to trust the folks that run the Veterans Affairs committee. Senator Isakson is the chair, Senator Tester is the ranking — And let them go through a confirmation process if Dr. Jackson chooses to go ahead," Coons told CNN's "New Day."
"My larger concern here is about a number of people who have been nominated not because of their qualifications, but because of their closeness to President Trump or because of his goals," the senator continued, singling out Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson for being unqualified for the post.
"Our HUD secretary, for example, had zero experience in public housing … He might be a good brain surgeon, but he had no relevant experience."
Coons later pushed back against the idea that Democrats are being "obstructionists" in their opposition to many of Trump's nominees.
"It's not that we're obstructionists," he said. "I think it's that we're insisting that when people who have no relevant qualifications are nominated for senior positions like Secretary of Education or Secretary of HUD, we'd like there to be a full confirmation process so we know what we're taking up."
The senator ended by saying that Jackson will have to decide for himself if he wants to continue through the process.
"Thorough aggressive confirmation hearings are not new," Coons said.
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