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Trump's secretary of defense confirmation hearing planned for Tuesday

Patrick Kelley, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Perhaps as important, it leaves the Senate little time to vet Esper. By all accounts Esper, a West Point graduate, has a sterling record as a former Army officer, Hill staffer, corporate lobbyist and outgoing Army secretary. But personal scandals recently derailed Patrick Shanahan's nomination to be Defense secretary and Adm. William Moran, whom the Senate confirmed as chief of naval operations and was set to start his new job in August.

Esper will certainly be put on the record regarding any possible past indiscretions. For example, Armed Services Committee member Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, asks all nominees who come before the panel if they have ever, since becoming a legal adult, engaged in any sort of sexual harassment.

If Esper can prove a clean personal history, he will more than likely earn the job with little resistance.

Both Republicans and Democrats are hoping to fill the many vacant Pentagon positions as soon as possible, including a new deputy secretary, an Army secretary to replace Esper and chief of naval operations, among others.

To date, Esper has received a vote of confidence from his former boss Chuck Hagel, who served as defense secretary under President Barack Obama. Esper served as Hagel's legislative director when Hagel served in the Senate as a Republican.

Esper has also received praise from congressional Democrats for his work as Army secretary on that service's fiscal 2020 budget proposal.


Rather than requesting billions more to modernize the Army's weapons systems, Esper and other Army officials analyzed more than 500 programs to find those that no longer made sense and to use the savings from those projects to fund their priorities.

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