The White House just confirmed that the Department of Veterans Affairs second-in-command, James Byrne, has been abruptly fired from his position just five months after his Senate confirmation.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced the decision on Monday, saying “Today, I dismissed VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne due to loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties. This decision is effective immediately.”
No further details regarding the circumstances surrounding Byrne’s firing were given, but The Hill reported that a White House spokesman confirmed the news shortly thereafter.
Byrne was confirmed by the Senate in September 2019 but had been filling the role as acting deputy secretary since August 2018. There has been no announcement in regard to who fill Byrne’s now-vacated role.
Byrne now joins over 8,000 VA officials and employees of all ranks that have been fired by the Trump administration for not “living up to standards,” as Wilkie described it in November of 2019.
Wilkie is expected to deliver an address at a National Press Club Newsmaker immediately following President Trump’s State of the Union address on Wednesday, laying out the plans to improve the department’s service of American veterans and their families.
Yahoo News reports that “Secretary Wilkie will discuss the Trump Administration’s plan to prevent veteran suicide, and will outline how the VA will implement the kinds of sweeping organizational changes needed to optimize new technologies and innovations and provide veterans with modern services.”