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Senator removes hold on Iraq veteran's VA nomination

RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina has agreed to allow the nomination of injured Iraq veteran Tammy Duckworth to proceed for a top post in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"I will support her," Burr told a group of editors and reporters Wednesday at The News & Observer, a McClatchy newspaper.

Burr, the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, held up Duckworth's nomination last week because he had questions about a confidential financial questionnaire that she'd filled out.

The move angered some veterans groups because Duckworth is a National Guard major who lost both her legs when the helicopter she was piloting was attacked in Iraq.

President Barack Obama nominated her to be an assistant secretary of veterans affairs. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2006 and is now the head of veterans affairs for the state of Illinois. Duckworth had been a critic of the Bush administration's handling of veterans care.

Burr said he'd asked for a delay in the Senate confirmation vote because of "discrepancies" and "inconsistencies" in what he said were three different versions of her financial disclosure statement that she'd submitted to the Senate committee.

He declined to discuss the details, other than saying, "The math didn't add up." Duckworth subsequently provided additional information.

"At the end of the day," Burr said, "I don't think there is a financial question about Tammy Duckworth. I think she is extremely sloppy, but that is not a disqualification."

Burr said the financial disclosure questionnaires of Obama administration nominees were being scrutinized because of the number of tax problems that had emerged.

He said the fact that disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich had appointed Duckworth to the Illinois job had given him pause, but that he decided not to pursue that angle.

(Christensen reports for The (Raleigh) News & Observer.)

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