Politics

Senate Confirms New VA Inspector General After Two-Year Vacancy

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The Senate finally confirmed a permanent inspector general for the Department of Veterans Affairs Tuesday after the position stood vacant for over two years.

In a quick voice vote Tuesday evening, Michael Missal was nominated as permanent VA IG.

The absence of a permanent inspector general has led to a lack of accountability, according to some members of Congress. This lack of accountability has manifested in the form of a 2015 white paper brutally savaging the reputation of whistleblowers at the Tomah VA medical center. Numerous other accusations have surfaced, alleging cover-ups of information that would damage the VA’s reputation.

After former acting IG George Opfer stepped down in late 2013, Richard Griffin took the position, but owing to criticisms of too much sympathy and too close ties with the VA, he, too, bowed out of the position.

Since January 2015, GOP Sen. [crscore]Ron Johnson[/crscore], chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has pleaded with President Barack Obama to make a nomination. Obama obliged in October 2015, choosing Missal, who subsequently sat in limbo until now. Several senators held up the voice vote to secure compromises from both the VA and the IG’s office.

“We have a duty to provide the best care for the finest among us, and that begins by having a permanent and independent inspector general in place,” said Johnson. “Michael Missal is the tip of the spear to restore much-needed transparency and accountability at the VA Office of Inspector General. His presence will go far toward accomplishing our shared goal of providing the highest quality care to our nation’s veterans.”

Johnson has pushed for a permanent IG since early 2015. In January 2015, Johnson sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling on him to fill the vacancy. In June 2015, Democratic Sen. [crscore]Tammy Baldwin[/crscore] also added to the pressure with another letter signed by 10 other senators. She argued a permanent IG would help restore trust in the VA.

Missal formerly served as senior counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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