The Senate Armed Services Committee could approve current Army Secretary Dr. Mark Esper’s nomination to be DOD’s next chief as early as Thursday, but a formal floor vote is likely to wait until next week, CQ reported Wednesday.
The committee has moved quickly on Esper’s nomination after it received his official nomination paperwork Monday afternoon, then held his confirmation hearing just a day later on Tuesday.
Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), have followed Esper’s mostly uncontentious hearing with a push to vote on the former Army infantry officer’s confirmation only 48 hours after his testimony.
Inhofe said the panel’s fast maneuvering is due to “a sense of urgency” about the Pentagon’s leadership vacancy, according to Military Times.
Inhofe also called for “a strong secretary of defense who enjoys the trust and confidence of the president and who has the support of those entrusted with critical civilian leadership positions in the Department of Defense, more than a dozen of which still need to be filled.”
A potential floor vote Thursday would require all Senators agreeing to waive parliamentary rules. However, such swift action is considered unlikely since nearly 200 days have already passed without a permanent DOD chief, the longest absence in the agency’s history.
Another DOD vacancy, the nomination of Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, to become Joint Chiefs vice chairman is under scrutiny after new concerns that Hyten had previously been accused of sexual assault, Roll Call reported Wednesday.
A Defense Department investigation of the allegation had cleared Hyten of the charge, but Democratic Armed Services committee members have concerns about the case and investigation. As a result, Hyten’s nomination has been delayed while inquiries continue, according to the report.
Army photo by Spc. Dana Clarke