January 20, 2009 – Retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki was confirmed Tuesday to be secretary of veterans’ affairs in President Obama’s Cabinet.
The Senate confirmed Shinseki by voice vote and without debate just hours after Obama was sworn in as the 44th president. The Senate also approved the Cabinet appointments for the energy, education, interior, agriculture and education departments and Obama’s choice to head the White House Office of Management and Budget.
The nomination of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., to be Obama’s secretary of state will come to a vote in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon. The delay comes because some Republicans, especially Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, wanted a recorded vote on Clinton’s nomination instead of the voice votes allowed on the other cabinet posts.
No vote is required on Obama’s decision to keep Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.
Shinseki, who retired 2003 as Army chief of staff, takes over the Department of Veterans Affairs in the middle of an overhaul of the disability ratings system for ill and injured veterans and at a time when VA is being closely monitored on how it will handle the Aug. 1 effective date for the Post-9/11 GI Bill that promises to cover full tuition plus living and book allowances.