WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's choice to be the top health official at the embattled Veterans Affairs Department has withdrawn his nomination.
The news comes amid a firestorm over long patient waits at military veterans' medical facilities and covering up delays, a headache for Democrats ahead of November congressional elections.
Jeffrey Murawsky now oversees seven VA hospitals and 30 clinics, including one in suburban Chicago where there are allegations that its staff used secret lists to conceal long patient wait times for appointments.
The White House said in a statement that Murawsky feared a prolonged fight over his confirmation, adding that he believes the role is too important not to be filled quickly.
Obama accepted Murawsky's withdrawal and will move quickly to find a replacement, the White House statement said.
Murawsky's withdrawal comes as the Senate moves forward on a compromise bill to help veterans avoid long waits to see a doctor and make it easier to fire administrators who falsify records to cover up long wait times.
Hopes for a vote this week were dashed, but senators said they would press ahead on a measure to address an uproar over veterans' health care following allegations that veterans have died while waiting to see a Veterans Affairs doctor.
Senators had wanted to pass the bill before Friday's 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Europe in World War II. As many as a dozen senators were expected to attend the D-Day ceremonies in France.
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Original headline: APNewsBreak: Obama health care nominee withdraws
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