Senators voted unanimously, 97-0, to confirm McDonald to tackle the myriad problems facing the agency.
McDonald's nomination was approved unanimously by the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs last week after members from both sides of the aisle offered glowing recommendations of McDonald's qualifications, which include five years in the U.S. Army.
"I think that Mr. McDonald brings to us two very important qualities: He is familiar with the military because he has served in the military, and he has been the CEO of one of the major American corporations," Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said at the hearing. "It is no question we need good quality management, and I hope Mr. McDonald's corporate experience will give him the tools that he needs."
McDonald will be charged with implementing legislation, expected to pass shortly in both chambers, that will deal with improving wait times for appointments in the Veterans Health Administration and will allow veterans to seek care outside the system as well as expanding capacity within.
He will also be expected to overhaul the department's culture, with the new legislation making it easier for the secretary to fire incompetent or otherwise deceptive officials, such as those involved in covering up lengthy wait times by keeping veterans on secret lists.
Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, who took over the role upon the resignation of Eric Shinseki, will stay on as deputy secretary once McDonald is sworn in.