While his name is mentioned as a potential nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, announced Wednesday that he has been named to the House Veterans Affairs Committee, a perch that he said will “give us an even better platform to advocate for veterans” in his district and nationally.
Earlier Wednesday, Mast appeared before the committee to promote his bill to make it easier to put congressional offices in VA hospitals. Mast and the three other members of Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation — Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton — opened a first-of-its-kind joint office in December in the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach.
“This office has allowed me to expedite the assistance that I provide to our veterans and I truly believe that every member of Congress should have the opportunity to open an office at their VA facility if they would like to do so,” Mast told the Veterans Affairs Committee during a Wednesday hearing. “The more present a member of Congress can be in their VA medical center, the better the quality of service our veterans should receive.”
Mast, a decorated Army combat veteran who lost both his legs after a bomb blast in Afghanistan in 2010, has introduced a bill aimed at eliminating some of the red tape he encountered when he first sought to put the congressional office at the local VA hospital.
Mast’s bill states that such offices are permitted and directs the VA secretary to establish procedures for members of Congress to use VA facilities.
Reports surfaced last week that Mast is among those being considered by President Donald Trump to head the VA. The post became available after Trump fired former Secretary David Shulkin. Trump’s initial pick to replace Shulkin, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, withdrew last month.
Mast has declined comment on the VA secretary’s job beyond calling it “an honor to be considered to serve my fellow veterans and their families at the highest possible level.”