Former Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson was nominated as secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department after the resignation of current Secretary Anthony Principi. Nicholson, 66, a Vietnam veteran, currently is U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. Principi is the ninth member of President Bush's 15-member cabinet to resign since Bush won re-election. Bush has yet to name a replacement for HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who announced his resignation Dec. 3. As VA chief, Principi oversaw an agency with projected 2003 spending of $59.6 billion, including $25.9 billion for healthcare. Principi was 95th on Modern Healthcare readers' 2004 ranking of the 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare, falling between University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Arthur Caplan and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association President Scott Serota. -- by Tony Fong
Ex-GOP national committee chief picked to head VA
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