Senate confirms Denis McDonough, Biden’s pick to lead Veterans Affairs

Denis McDonough
Secretary of Veterans Affairs nominee Denis McDonough speaks during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Washington.
(Associated Press)

The U.S. Senate confirmed Denis McDonough as the secretary of Veterans Affairs on Monday, making the former Obama chief of staff the second non-veteran to lead the department.

The VA, which has faced scandals under both Republican and Democratic administrations, is the second-largest federal agency behind the Department of Defense.

The 87-7 vote for McDonough will probably be the last confirmation of President Biden’s nominees before the Senate begins former President Trump’s impeachment trial on Tuesday. Only six of Biden’s other Cabinet-level nominees have been confirmed.


McDonough served as the deputy national security advisor under former President Obama before becoming the White House chief of staff. It was in the latter role that McDonough oversaw the overhaul of the VA after the 2014 uproar regarding wait times for veterans seeking care.

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee voted unanimously last week to advance his nomination.

McDonough “has demonstrated an exemplary commitment to public service and a deep understanding that taking care of our veterans is a cost of war,” Chairman Jon Tester said after the committee vote last week.