nearvideo-Senate set to confirm Mark Esper as Secretary of defense
Esper would be the first Senate-confirmed defense chief since Jim Mattis joined in December; Lucas Tomlinson reports from the Pentagon.
The Senate confirmed former Army Lieutenant Colonel Mark Esper as defense Minister Tuesday, making him the first permanent Pentagon chief since James Mattis stepped in last December.
Esper served, who was 10 years active duty and 11 years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, Secretary, prior to his nomination, and Patrick Shanahan was Acting Secretary.
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The vote was not close, with the Senate Esper confirmed by a vote of 90-8. The no votes included the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren.
Warren and Esper had a tense exchange during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, as she requested, his refusal to fully recuse themselves from any and all matters relating to Raytheon, the defense contractor, for which he served as a lobbyist prior to joining the government. Esper said that ethics staff told him to recuse himself.
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Earlier in the hearing, he said he was “fully committed to would have to live up to my ethical obligations,” and inserting a “robust screening process” and “stay in constant contact with our ethics staff.”
On the day of the hearing, Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Esper, praised him called “a man of honor and integrity for the nation and is committed to the men and women who serve in uniform.”