President Joe Biden on Wednesday named Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Tanya Bradsher as his pick to serve as the department’s second ranking official.

If confirmed, Bradsher will become the first female nominee sworn into the post and the highest ranking woman veteran in the history of VA leadership. Two other women have served as VA’s deputy secretary, but only in an acting role.

Bradsher is a former Army lieutenant colonel whose 20 years in the service includes work in the Pentagon’s public affairs office and a deployment to Iraq. She has served as VA Chief of Staff since 2021, acting as a senior advisor to Secretary Denis McDonough and former Deputy Secretary Donald Remy, who left the post earlier this month.

She also served on the White House’s National Security Council under Biden and former President Barack Obama.

Bradsher’s historic nomination could face opposition in the Senate not because of her resume but because of objections from Republican lawmakers over unrelated issues. Last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, placed a hold on Joshua Jacobs, the White House’s nominee to serve as VA Under Secretary of Benefits, over complaints he had about department personnel issues and unanswered information requests.

In addition, several Republican lawmakers have threatened to delay or disrupt VA leadership operations over objections they have to the department’s abortion policy unveiled last fall, which allows physicians to perform abortion procedures at some VA medical centers for eligible veterans and dependents.

No timetable has been set for a confirmation hearing on Bradsher’s nomination.

Guy Kiyokawa, VA’s assistant secretary for enterprise integration, is currently serving as acting deputy secretary. The deputy secretary post oversees a host of major initiatives for the department, including the embattled electronics health records modernization effort.

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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