The Senate is expected to vote to confirm Barbara Barrett as the next secretary of the Air Force as early as Oct. 16, after resuming consideration of her nomination Oct. 15.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) filed cloture on the nomination Sept 26, before the upper chamber left for its annual two-week October recess, and confirmed in his Tuesday afternoon address on the Senate floor that the confirmation vote will occur by the end of the week.
Barrett – the former chair of the Aerospace Corporation who served as the U.S. ambassador to Finland from 2008 and 2010 – would succeed Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan, who has led the Air Force since Heather Wilson stepped down in May to become the president of the University of Texas at El Paso.
President Trump announced May 21 that he had selected Barrett to become the next Air Force secretary. She has also served as deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board. She served on the governing boards of companies and organizations including Raytheon [RTN], Piper Aircraft and the Space Foundation.
An instrument-rated pilot, she trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and Kazakhstan, and received a certification for space travel. Ambassador Barrett earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees at Arizona State University (ASU). Honorary doctorates have been conferred by ASU, Thunderbird, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University and Finlandia University.
The Senate resumed consideration of the nomination Tuesday afternoon upon its return to Capitol Hill, and was scheduled to vote to invoke cloture after Defense Daily’s deadline. Prior to the break, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had placed a hold on Barrett’s nomination as he sought information from her and the Pentagon regarding service personnel staying at Trump properties overseas.
The Senate confirmed Air Force Gen. John Hyten to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy to be the next Army secretary in September.