Senate again confirms Dempsey as Joint Chiefs chairman

The Senate confirmed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey to a second two-year term by voice vote on Thursday.

The Senate approved Dempsey’s nomination as part of a large package of nominations that were approved by voice vote before the Senate kicked off its month-long August recess.

The Senate also approved Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. James Winnefeld and a host of other military nominations.

Dempsey’s confirmation quickly sailed through both the Senate Armed Services Committee and full Senate this week, but not before he faced some turbulence at the hands of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

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McCain and Dempsey got into a heated argument during Dempsey’s confirmation hearing last month, when McCain pressed him to lay out his personal opinion on U.S. military intervention in Syria.

After Dempsey declined to do so, saying that it was inappropriate while deliberations within the administration were ongoing, McCain threatened to place a hold on Dempsey’s confirmation.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) tried to smooth things over by requesting Dempsey submit an assessment of military options and their costs and benefits.

McCain dropped his threat to hold up the nomination when Dempsey did so, although McCain called the general’s assessment “beyond anything that any rational military thinker that I know would ever contemplate.”

In a statement after Dempsey was confirmed, McCain said that he continued to be "seriously concerned about the advice that our nation’s top military leaders have given the president and National Security Council regarding the most serious and time-sensitive crises in the world today."

“In my many years, I have seen a lot of military commanders overstate what is needed to conduct military action for one reason or another. But, regarding Syria, rarely have I seen an effort as disingenuous and exaggerated as what General Dempsey has proposed," McCain said in a statement.

“Without sound professional military judgment guiding our top decision-makers, Syria will become a failed state in the heart of the Middle East and a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and its allies and degrade into a regional conflict that threatens the national security interests of the United States and its allies."

When the committee cleared Dempsey’s nomination on Tuesday, McCain allowed it to pass through a voice vote, but McCain and two other Republican senators, Sens. Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) and Roy Blunt (Mo.), voted against his confirmation, Defense News reported.