President-elect Trump revealed Wednesday he has picked David Shulkin, current undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to lead the agency under his administration.
"We looked long and hard. We interviewed at least 100 people," Trump said at his first press conference since winning the presidency. The announcement came as a surprise after the president-elect spent weeks on his search for a new VA secretary.
Shulkin, a controversial figure among critics of the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs, is next in charge under current VA Secretary Robert McDonald. He is a veteran hospital administrator, having served as President at Morristown Medical Center, Goryeb Children's Hospital, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, and the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization.
"I have no doubt that Dr. Shulkin will be able to lead the turnaround our Department of Veterans Affairs needs," the incoming Republican president said in a statement Wednesday, two days after he and Shulkin first met at Trump Tower.
"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 added.
Shulkin praised Trump's "unquestionable" commitment to American veterans and said he is "eager to support the best practices for care and provide our Veterans Affairs' team with the resources they need to improve health outcomes."
House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe, R-Tenn., praised Trump's nomination of Shulkin for the Cabinet-level position.
"I am pleased President-elect Trump has chosen a physician to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, especially one familiar with the integrating of private practitioners into the VA's network of health care providers," Roe said in a statement. "I've long said I would be happy to work with anyone committed to ensuring our heroes have access to the services they have earned, especially quality health care, and I look forward to working with Dr. Shulkin to bring wholesale reform to the Department."
Shulkin is the second-to-last candidate to be nominated for Trump's Cabinet. The president-elect has yet to name his secretary of agriculture.