The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled a Tuesday confirmation hearing to “act expeditiously to consider” the nomination of Army Secretary Mark Esper to be defense secretary. The hearing, set for July 16, will make it possible for the committee to move Esper’s nomination to the floor under an expedited process, according to a joint statement from the committee chairman, Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe, and ranking member Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed.
The action comes as the committee says it has “received pre-nomination paperwork” from the White House but not the formal nomination. Normally, the Armed Services Committee waits seven days between receiving a formal nomination and voting on the nominee.
“Given the exigencies of the situation, the committee will waive the seven-day rule for Dr. Esper’s nomination,” said the joint statement. “We need Senate-confirmed leadership at the Pentagon, and quickly. While we will act expeditiously to consider Acting Secretary Esper’s expected nomination, the Committee will uphold our constitutional advice-and-consent responsibilities with the care and consideration this position deserves,” Inhofe said in the statement.
“We’re expediting the process, but there are no shortcuts and this nominee, like every nominee to this critical post, must be thoroughly vetted and carefully evaluated,” said Reed. Once the nomination reaches the Senate, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer will take over as acting defense secretary until Esper’s nomination is confirmed.
. Should Esper be rejected, Spencer would continue as acting secretary until a new nominee is submitted. ..