President Bush Appoints U.S. Ambassador to Vatican as New Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary
President Bush on Thursday appointed Jim Nicholson, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, to replace Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi, who submitted his resignation on Nov. 16, CQ Today reports. Bush said that Nicholson will continue efforts to modernize VA, "especially the VA health care system."
According to CQ Today, "Nicholson will face the same problems dealing with Congress that Principi experienced" as lawmakers "in both parties have resisted White House efforts to rein in fast-growing spending on veterans' health care and to shift some of the costs to veterans themselves." The fiscal year 2005 omnibus appropriations bill (HR 4818) that Bush signed earlier this week will provide VA with $28.3 billion for health care, 4% more than the president requested and 5.5% more than in FY 2004. However, as "casualties mount from the ongoing hostilities in Iraq, the strain on VA health care is only expected to grow," CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 12/9).
Principi publicly announced his resignation on Wednesday. Bush praised Principi as a "goodhearted man" whose efforts have led to "better care" for veterans and their families (Benedetto, USA Today, 12/10).