A Senate panel approved yesterday President Barack Obama’s nomination of Pentagon officials including Frank Kendall to be defense acquisition chief after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) dropped his objections.
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) favorably reported out seven Pentagon civilian nominations yesterday, sending them to the full Senate for final confirmation votes. They are Kendall (under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics nominee), Heidi Shyu (assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology nominee), James Miller (under secretary of defense for policy nominee), Erin Conaton (under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness nominee), Kathleen Hicks (principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy nominee), Jessica Lynn Wright (assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs nominee), and Derek Chollet (assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs nominee).
Kendall appeared before the SASC for a non-contentious confirmation hearing on March 29, when he discussed how budget cuts could harm the defense industry and how the Pentagon is working to control costs with weapon systems including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
That same day McCain, the SASC’s ranking member, said he would not vote for any Pentagon civilian nominees until he is satisfied with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s response to charges the Pentagon is not complying with seven provisions of the fiscal year 2012 defense authorization act. McCain’s qualms included the Pentagon’s failure to heed direction in the FY ’12 policy law requiring it to terminate or significantly scale back the Medium Air Extended Defense System and the Air Force’s failure to spend funds Congress authorized and appropriated for the E-8C Joint STARS aircraft re-engining program (Defense Daily, March 30).
McCain received sufficient response from the Pentagon to concerns he listed in an April 29 letter to Panetta, McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said yesterday.
“Senator McCain has seen a marked improvement in both the (Defense) Department’s responsiveness to the committee’s inquiries and in its awareness of SASC’s duties and oversight role in the defense area,” Rogers told Defense Daily.
Kendall has served as defense acquisition chief in an acting capacity since Ashton Carter, who formerly held the job, became assistant defense secretary.