What does Roe think about Ronny Jackson's exit?

Hank Hayes • Apr 27, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Former Veterans Administration Secretary nominee Ronny Jackson had become a distraction that needed to go away, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said in a Friday conference call with reporters.

Jackson, President Donald Trump’s physician, withdrew his nomination after publicity about a 2012 Inspector General’s report accusing him of unprofessional behavior.

“I don’t know Dr. Jackson,” Roe, R-Tenn., told reporters. “I know he had a great reputation up here, and the president had great trust in him. I never met him. I know that you don’t get to be an admiral without being vetted pretty well. You certainly don’t get to be White House physician without getting vetted. This is a tough arena up here. I don’t know what was true or what wasn’t true. … He became a distraction, and certainly the VA doesn’t need any more distractions right now.”

Roe, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, said he could support former House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller to be VA secretary.

“I served with him for eight years. He knows the VA well. … He served as chairman for six years. Jeff would be a top contender. … If he’s selected, I’ll work well with Jeff Miller,” Roe stressed.

Another candidate, said Roe, might be former Cleveland Clinic President and CEO Toby Cosgrove.

“He also would be very good,” Roe said of Cosgrove. “I think this process will go slower and be more measured.”

Roe also addressed these questions:

What else is going on with veterans’ issues?

“We’re going to wrap up a bill that combines four elements: the Community Care bill (which allows a veteran to get care at a community center), combining the seven ways you have to go through to see a doctor; number two is a caregiver program for catastrophically injured pre-9/11 veterans; number three funding for the Choice program (which allows veterans to get care outside the VA) … lastly an asset review to look at the personnel assets the VA has and look at the physical assets and marry them correctly. It will take probably 10 years to fully implement this.”

What do you think about the talks between the two Korean leaders?

“That’s a very positive step. … President Trump is going to try to have the meeting (with both leaders) in June. … Is he (North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un) serious? We’ll find out. I hope he is serious because it does a lot for that region. … We have over 30,000 U.S. troops there, many of them parked at Camp Casey near the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone).”

What’s in the Farm Bill this year?

“The Farm Bill this year will be different. Eighty percent of the Farm Bill is the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) Program. … There will be a work provision in that this time for able-bodied people between 18 and 59 and a half (years old). To get this benefit, you have to work 20 hours a week or be in an approved education program. … The elderly and children, their benefits stay exactly the same. … In the bipartisan budget act we just passed, there was about $800 million there to help small dairy farmers.”

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