Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will become chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee beginning Wednesday.
In a statement released Tuesday, Tester announced he would lead a hearing on the pending nomination of Denis R. McDonough to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
"Serving as Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee is an honor of a lifetime, and I'm grateful for the chance to lead the committee on behalf of Montana's veterans and all who've served our nation proudly," Tester said.
"I'm looking forward to continuing the bipartisan partnership Senator Moran and I have built, and am ready to roll up my sleeves along with our committee members and veterans advocates to hold the VA accountable, cut red tape, and provide quality care and benefits to those who've sacrificed on behalf of our freedoms," Tester said.
Tester has served on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee since 2007, when he joined the Senate.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., will become the committee's ranking Republican.
"Taking care of our veterans is a continuing cost of war, and I'm prepared to get to work in this new role to ensure Congress follows through on this sacred duty," Tester said.
In recent months, he has introduced legislation to expand Veterans Affairs coverage for Agent Orange-linked illnesses, which passed in December, as well as a bill to expand suicide prevention for veterans.
Multiple veterans groups, including Montana groups and national organizations, were quoted in Tester's Tuesday release praising his leadership.
"Senator Tester has been a constant advocate for veterans during his tenure on the committee and we are confident he will continue to lead bipartisan efforts to help veterans as the Chairman," said B.J. Lawrence, director of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"Senator Tester assuming the Chairmanship will be a great benefit to the veterans of Montana and our nation," said Department Adjutant of the American Legion Department of Montana Gary White. "The American Legion of Montana looks forward to his continued success in strengthening the Veterans Administration and their services to our veterans."