Senate Republicans on Tuesday officially named Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran as the new chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, putting him in line to be a pivotal figure in veterans policy in the months ahead.

The move was anticipated for months, since former chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced his retirement in late summer. Moran was considered the likely replacement, but no formal action was taken until after Isakson stepped down from his Senate seat at the end of December.

In a statement, Moran said he is committed to “ensuring our veterans have the right resources at the right time to achieve success after service” in his new role leading the committee.

“There is no group of people I hold in higher regard than those who serve our nation, and I take seriously the responsibility of providing our veterans with the best our country has to offer,” he said. “I have always relied on veterans to help drive policy decisions in Washington, and I will continue to look to those who have served for ideas and solutions to improve the lives of their fellow service members.”

Moran has served on the Senate veterans committee since his election to the chamber in 2011. Before that, as a representative from Kansas, he served for 12 years on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

In recent years he has been an influential voice on veterans health care issues before the committee, pushing for expanded community care options outside the VA health system. He has said suicide prevention and toxic exposure issues will be atop his priority list for the coming congressional session.

Moran’s chairmanship comes amid significant leadership changes in veterans policy for Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Along with Isakson’s departure, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee ranking member (and former committee chairman) Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., announced last week he will not seek reelection this year.

Isakson’s replacement in the Senate, Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler, will also sit on the chamber’s veterans committee.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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