The administration’s Air Force Secretary and Army Secretary nominees faced sharp questioning from Senate Armed Services Committee Democrats on Thursday during their joint confirmation hearing, The Hill reported.
Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and Air Force Secretary nominee Barbara Barrett testified before the committee for their Senate confirmations for the top civilian jobs in the respective services.
The joint confirmation hearing featured repeated questioning from several panel Democrats regarding the nominees views on the administration’s use of $3.6 billion in military construction funding for southern border barriers, according to the report.
Defense officials acknowledged last week the Pentagon was re-directing – upon request from the White House – MilCon funds from 127 military construction projects be put toward 11 barrier projects along 175 miles of the U.S. southern border.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper had authorized the use of the MilCon funds in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), which largely prompted Thursday’s sharp questioning.
McCarthy, a former Army Ranger who deployed to Afghanistan and who has served as undersecretary of the Army for two years would follow Esper in leading the service as it transitions to a more lethal fighting force.
Barrett, an instrument-rated pilot who was the first civilian woman to land an F/A-18 fighter jet on an aircraft carrier flight deck, served as U.S. ambassador to Finland in 2008 and 2009, and is former chair of the nonprofit Aerospace Corporation.
Despite questioning about the southern border barrier controversy, both McCarthy and Barrett are expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate, according to the report.
Photo credit: U.S. Army and NASA