Trump picks Obama appointee to lead Veterans Affairs. Has he cooled on his plan to overhaul it?


Trump picks Obama appointee to lead Veterans Affairs. Has he cooled on his plan to overhaul it?
  1. Trump picks Obama appointee to lead Veterans Affairs. Has he cooled on his plan to overhaul it?
    latimes.com
    Donald Trump hands over control of businesses to sons; restricts future dealings Jan. 11, 2017, 12:16 p.m. This is our look at President-elect Donald Trump's transition and the outgoing Obama administration: Watch live: Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson confirmation hearing…
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Jan. 11, 2017, 12:16 p.m.

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All updates Congress Immigration Inauguration Obamacare Transition White House Jan. 11, 2017, 12:03 p.m. reporting from Washington

Trump picks Obama appointee to lead Veterans Affairs. Has he cooled on his plan to overhaul it?

Evan Halper
Ari Sonnenberg is an Iraq war veteran who struggled to get benefits from the VA. (Rick Loomis/LAT) Ari Sonnenberg is an Iraq war veteran who struggled to get benefits from the VA. (Rick Loomis/LAT)

On a day Washington is focused on the people Donald Trump has picked to help him upend much of the federal government, Trump made a surprise announcement signaling there is one large part of the bureaucracy he may be less eager to overhaul than he has let on.

Trump named a high-ranking Obama administration official to run the sprawling Department of Veterans Affairs.

Trump’s announcement that he has chosen for the post David Shulkin, currently the undersecretary at the department, came as a shock to veterans groups and represented a considerable setback to the network of nonprofits funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Trump had earlier left the impression he would be cleaning house at the department in favor of a free-market approach favored by the Koch organizations that could shift a considerable amount of the care provided by VA facilities over to the private sector.

Shulkin has been an outspoken critic of such an approach, making him a favorite target of the  Koch-funded nonprofit Concerned Veterans for America. In a blog post in April, the group characterized Shulkin’s performance taking questions from a congressional committee as a “show of incompetence” and reflective of “what’s wrong with the VA.”

But Trump, who embraced much of the Koch-backed organization’s reform plan during the campaign, passed over contenders for the VA post who …

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