Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced that he plans to block the White House’s nomination for Veterans Affairs’s Under Secretary of Benefits, Joshua Jacobs, citing unresolved concerns about the department, the Military Times reported.
This move is to reprimand the VA and lodge a specific complaint against Jacobs, who is currently leading in an acting capacity, Grassley said in a statement. Previously, Jacobs seemed to be in for an easy confirmation vote, having faced no opposition during his February confirmation hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“Because of VA’s lack of transparency on critical issues and Mr. Jacobs’ evasive answers on a number of my questions, I must object to any consideration of this nominee,” Grassley said.
He listed multiple ongoing whistleblower cases – including one regarding conflict-of-interest issues, one on the VA’s handling of privacy data, and one on the 2021 firing of a whistleblower – said the VA has not answered questions despite multiple requests, and partially blamed Jacobs, calling his responses “unsatisfactory” and “disappointing.”
“Jacobs was reported out of committee unanimously on a bipartisan basis, and we look forward to the next steps in the confirmation process,” a White House official said in a statement.
Given this roadblock, Senate Democrats could force a vote on the nomination but would require drastic procedural moves and floor time.