So, one can only imagine the glee felt in the Kochs’ offices on Thursday when the president finally sent Shulkin packing. The VA Chief had retained the support of most Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), which generally are opposed to privatization of the VHA, but it was not enough to save his job. This is a strong indicator of the Kochs’ influence over the Trump administration on veterans’ issues.
Experts and advocates now fear that Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor and Trump’s pick to replace Shulkin, will rubber-stamp the Koch agenda. “I think [Jackson] will be a puppet that will put the VHA and the VA on a starvation diet,” said Suzanne Gordon, a journalist and author who covers the VA, in an interview with Democracy Now.
Among the legislation the Kochs are pushing is the Veterans Community Care and Access Act (S.2184, which was introduced by Sens. John McCain and Jerry Moran), the Veteran Empowerment Act (HR.4457, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn), which seek to privatize much of the VHA, and the Vet Protection Act (HR.1461), which would weaken the rights of VA employees.