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The Week

Veterans groups say they weren’t consulted about Biden’s VA pick until after he was announced

President-elect Joe Biden’s leakproof Cabinet selection process may have done more harm than good.Biden has spent the past few weeks filling out his White House staff, keeping a tight lid on the process and putting out surprising nominees for many top Cabinet spots. In fact, the process was so secretive that advocacy groups who expected to be consulted were left feeling “blindsided” when the picks eventually came out, they tell Politico.Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, was among the most controversial picks. A longtime aide to former President Barack Obama, McDonough is not a veteran and doesn’t have much experience in veterans affairs. And it was only after McDonough’s selection leaked that Biden transition officials began asking advocates and lawmakers to support him, three people told Politico. “I don’t know any leading activist who got to weigh in on this pick. I’m getting calls now asking me to support it, but I didn’t get those before,” Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told Politico. Similar backlash has surrounded the selection of former USDA head Tom Vilsack to return to the department, and the nomination of retired Gen. Lloyd Austin over former Pentagon official Michèle Flournoy.Pete Giangreco, a longtime Democratic strategist who advised Obama, contended that the closely guarded selection process is a positive. “To me, the fact that people didn’t get a heads-up is a good sign that this is an all-business, no-drama administration like Obama’s,” he told Politico. “People in three months won’t remember” this Cabinet skirmish, Giangreco continued, though a Republican Senate reluctant to even acknowledge Biden’s win may drag out the nomination process far longer.More stories from theweek.com Donald Trump’s defeat is good. Why does it feel so bad? Will Georgia show Democrats ran the wrong campaign against Trump? Fauci: Americans without underlying conditions could get COVID-19 vaccine by late March, early April



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