Senate confirms Estevez as Under Secretary of Defense

The Senate confirmed President Obama’s nominee to serve as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense by voice-vote.

That vote came after most Republicans voted with Democrats to end debate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Estevez’s nomination had been delayed for 402 days.

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“Mr. Estevez has specialized in military logistics for more a decade,” Reid said. “And it is unfortunate that Republicans would hold up confirmation of such a crucial defense department nominee solely for unrelated political reasons.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) defended his hold on Estevez Wednesday, saying he doesn’t have anything personally against Estevez but wanted to get the attention of the Department of Defense.

Cornyn said he wants the DOD to stop buying helicopters from a Russian arms dealer that also does business with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, who is brutally killing is own people.

“Why are we buying Russian helicopters when there are American ones,” Cornyn said. “The reality is the Department of Defense has plenty of alternatives.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Estevez was not responsible for the helicopter purchases and could not reverse them, therefore his nomination shouldn’t be held up.

“It really has no relevance,” Levin said ahead of the vote. “He is extremely well qualified for this position.”

The Senate has been working all week on executive branch and judicial nominees.

Reid said GOP obstruction has created a “backlog” of Obama nominees and vowed that the Senate would continue to work through some “critical” executive branch nominees this week. Votes are likely on at least four more nominees.