Patty Murray Looks to Become Next Chair of Senate VA Committee

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Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Likely New Senate Vets Affairs Comm Chair

Update: Veterans for Common Sense exec director, Paul Sullivan, says of Sen. Patty Murray becoming chair: “One word will do for  Murray: ‘Fantastic!'” 

Senator Patty Murray will likely not echo her GOP House counterpart and hit veterans’ costs, DVA efficiencies and privatization. Murray is the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, and has worked with the VA to open community-based health clinics throughout her state. Another veteran legal advocate on background said, “Murray’s great.”

By Rick Maze

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, an 86-year-old veteran of World War II, appears to have lost his seat as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Senate Democrats are expected to vote this week to give the veterans committee post to Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Akaka will become chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, according Senate and outside sources.

“This is not much of a secret,” said a consultant who works with many veterans groups. “Akaka’s staff was told about this some time ago.”

Age appears to be a factor in the decision to replace Akaka with Murray, a 60-year-old four-term senator who is part of the Democratic leadership and a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

Murray was the first woman appointed to the veterans’ committee when she was seated on the panel in 1995, which means she also will be its first chairwoman, [an attribute some deem germane].

Murray has actively pushed for many improvements in veterans’ benefits, including employment help, better health care for women and more money for treating war-related injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

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