Senate confirms ex-Lockheed exec for top Pentagon policy role

Senate confirms ex-Lockheed exec for top Pentagon policy role
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The Senate on Wednesday confirmed former Lockheed Martin executive John Rood to be under secretary of Defense for policy.

Lawmakers voted 81-7, with Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) Sanders2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Sanders knocks Trump in MLK Day speech Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Kamala Harris announces presidential campaign MORE (D-Mass.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Overnight Energy: Watchdog investigating EPA enforcement numbers | EPA's Wheeler faces Senate grilling | Interior's offshore drilling staff returning to work during shutdown EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D-Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth Gillibrand2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE (D-N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Kamala Harris staffer mocks O'Reilly for saying Harris 'lost' his vote for president Harris after announcing presidential run says her 'highest priority' is protecting Mueller probe MORE (D-Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices MORE (D-N.J.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCongress should elevate those trapped in the gap – support ELEVATE Act IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries IRS waiving penalty for some in first filing season under Trump's tax law MORE (D-Ore.) voting no.

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Rood, previously the senior vice president of Lockheed Martin International, served in several roles during the George W. Bush administration. He will now take the Pentagon‘s top policy job, after the White House in October named him for the position. 

The confirmation process wasn't without its hurdles. Some lawmakers in November had expressed concern over Rood’s future interactions with his former company.

Rood had signed a White House ethics pledge to recuse himself from all decisions involving Lockheed for two years and divest himself from the defense contractor. But he would not confirm to Warren that he would not seek a waiver that would allow him to participate in matters involving the defense contractor as under secretary.

“Will you commit not to seek such a waiver during your time in office?” Warren asked him during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Rood declined multiple times to say "yes" or "no." Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Listen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE (R-Ariz.) accused Rood of “ducking the answer here.”

The exchange was not enough to bar Rood from the policy position, as the Senate Armed Services Committee approved his nomination in late November.