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Senate confirms Denis McDonough as Veterans Affairs secretary

The Senate on Monday confirmed Denis McDonough as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

McDonough, 51, was confirmed in an 87-7 vote. In 2013, he served as chief of staff to President Barack Obama, and before that was a deputy national security adviser. McDonough is only the second non-veteran to lead the VA.

In this role, he will have to guide the agency as it works to vaccinate millions of veterans, while also trying to repair its reputation, following scandals involving long waits and the falsification of records.

McDonough told the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee that he will overhaul the department. "This won't be easy," he said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs faces great challenges, challenges made even more daunting by the coronavirus pandemic. Its capabilities have not always risen to the needs of our veterans."