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Republican senator holds up Duckworth's VA nomination


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POSTED: Saturday, April 04, 2009

WASHINGTON » A Republican senator has delayed President Barack Obama's nomination of Tammy Duckworth, an injured Iraq war helicopter pilot, to be an assistant secretary at the Veterans Affairs Department.

; The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee did not vote on the nomination Thursday because North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr asked that the panel hold off. Burr, the top Republican on the committee, wants the White House and Duckworth, a McKinley High School and University of Hawaii graduate, to answer some of his questions. Burr's spokesman, David Ward, would not disclose the questions yesterday.

“;He's doing his due diligence ... to ensure that veterans have the best representation possible,”; Ward said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The committee chairman, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, called it a “;disappointing setback.”;

“;Tammy Duckworth is a talented and qualified nominee who has already given so much for her country and the veterans she serves,”; he said.

Duckworth, a major in the Illinois National Guard, lost both her legs and partial use of one arm in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in 2004. She ran for Congress in 2006 but lost.

On Feb. 3, Obama nominated her to the position of assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs. Her duties would include directing VA's public affairs operations as well as programs for homeless veterans. Soon after her appointment, she stepped down from her position as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, where she had worked since 2006.

On Thursday the committee did approve the nomination of W. Scott Gould to be deputy VA secretary.