N.C. Sen. Burr delays vote on Iraq war veteran for VA post

McClatchy NewspapersApril 3, 2009 

WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina is delaying the nomination vote and swearing-in of injured Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth for a top post in the Veterans Affairs administration.

His actions angered some veterans groups Friday.

"Senator Burr has had plenty of time to ask questions of her," Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org, an organization of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, said in a statement. "Senator Burr is only hurting American veterans with this nonsense. He should stop playing petty partisan games, stop needling the White House for the sheer fun of it and grow up."

Burr still has questions about Duckworth's nomination, his office said.

Aides said that Burr didn't have a hold on the vote, but he told Duckworth and the White House this week that his questions hadn't been answered, so the Senate's planned confirmation vote was delayed.

"He's basically doing some due diligence, as he does for every nominee to ensure veterans have the best representation," said Burr's spokesman, David Ward. "It's the same thing he would do with any nominee."

Ward declined to discuss what the questions were.

Burr is the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Duckworth, a National Guard major and an icon among many veterans, lost both her legs when the helicopter she was piloting was attacked in Iraq in 2004. She's now the head of veterans affairs for the state of Illinois.

President Barack Obama tapped her two months ago to become the assistant secretary of veterans affairs. Her Senate nomination hearing was Wednesday morning, with a confirmation vote planned for Thursday and a swearing-in scheduled for Friday.

Congress has gone into a two-week recess, meaning a vote probably won't happen until at least April 21.

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