The Senate on Tuesday approved Mark Esper to be the country’s 27th defense secretary, ending a wait of more than 200 days for a permanent Pentagon leader.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said ahead of the vote Tuesday that Esper is “beyond qualified” for the top military job.
“His record of public service is beyond impressive,” McConnell said. “His commitment to serving our service members is beyond obvious. And the need for a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense is beyond urgent.”
In a 90-8 vote, the Senate overwhelmingly backed Esper, a former lobbyist for weapons maker Raytheon Co, to be President Donald Trump’s second confirmed leader of the Pentagon.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., offered similar praise.
“It’s not very often we have someone that is enthusiastically supported by Republicans, Democrats, and he is obviously the right person,” he said. “He has the trust of our president, the trust of our military, the trust of Congress and the country to keep our nation safe.”
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Senate Armed Services Committee member and 2020 presidential hopeful, was the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to voice opposition to Esper’s confirmation during the hearing.
Lawmakers are meanwhile further pressing the American President Trump to move quickly on naming candidates for other key Pentagon leadership vacancies, including a new Air Force secretary, a new Defense Department comptroller (Norquist’s current job), and a new undersecretary for personnel and readiness.