Sen. Murray brings strong leadership to VA Committee

Murray has shown herself to be an advocate for veterans in Walla Walla and across the country.

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Sen. Patty Murray's ascension to chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee will benefit the Walla Walla Valley and veterans in the region.

Murray will be perfectly situated to make certain the federal government follows through on its promise to upgrade and expand the Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Memorial Medical Center.

But, more importantly, Murray's leadership of the Veterans Affairs Committee will be a boon for all U.S. veterans.

Murray has shown herself to be a tenacious fighter to ensure veterans receive the medical care and benefits owed them by the nation. She is more than willing to chew up a bureaucrat whose paper pushing and penny pinching unfairly hurts veterans. Her passion for veterans has been on display in her 18 years in the U.S. Senate.

Murray is the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, and as a 22-year-old college intern she worked with Vietnam veterans at a psychiatric hospital ward in Seattle, The Seattle Times reported. She has been a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee for more than 15 years.

Murray was elected chairwoman this week by her follow Democrats, who hold the majority in the Senate.

Murray's task won't be easy as Republicans control the House, meaning it will take bipartisan efforts to move projects and programs forward. Murray has demonstrated success in working across the political aisle.

That has, for example, taken place in the effort to save, and then upgrade, the Walla Walla VA medical facility. Murray worked closely with former Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, and then her successor, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane.

The last time a senator from the Evergreen State chaired a full committee was in the 1980s when Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson were in office.

Murray is taking her new role seriously. She said she aims to keep the Obama administration focused on delivering medical care and benefits to veterans.

"I am one who will hold any president accountable -- regardless of political party -- accountable for making sure that veterans get the care they need," Murray said. "This president used to sit next to me as a junior member of the committee, and I remind the president of that all the time. Believe me, I take him on when he doesn't do things right."

Murray should not be doubted. We've seen her in action when she brought a Veterans Affairs Committee hearing to Walla Walla when the Wainwright facility was threatened to be closed.

Murray demanded answers from VA officials about why they wanted to close the Walla Walla facility. She ultimately got answers, found the plan to be flawed, and was able to convince the VA to move in another -- more appropriate -- direction.

Murray is the right choice to lead the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

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