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Senate confirms former Boeing VP as deputy Defense secretary

Senate confirms former Boeing VP as deputy Defense secretary
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The Senate on Tuesday easily confirmed President Trump's pick for the Pentagon’s No. 2 civilian official.

Senators voted 92-7 for Patrick Shanahan to be the next deputy Defense secretary, the person who runs the day-to-day operations of the Defense Department. Only a simple majority was needed to approve his nomination.

The seven votes against Shanahan came from Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPorter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters DeVos mulled unilateral student loan forgiveness as COVID-19 wracked economy: memo MORE (Mass.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyFive centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote David Sirota: Democrats gave away leverage in forcing vote on ,000 checks Sanders to slow down NDAA veto override in bid to get vote on K checks proposal MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers MORE (N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Biden to seek minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal MORE (I-Vt.).

Lawmakers declined to drag out debate time Tuesday, with only Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJack ReedCongress overrides Trump veto for the first time Biden calls for the nation to 'unite, heal and rebuild in 2021' Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' MORE (D-R.I.) speaking on the former Boeing executive prior to the vote.

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“The department currently faces challenges on multiple fronts. For more than 16 years our military has been consumed by two prolonged wars against violent extremist groups like ISIS” and the rise of near peer competitors in Russia and China, Reed said.

“If Mr. Shanahan is confirmed, he will need to contend with all these challenges,” Reed added. “Mr. Shanahan has developed a strong reputation in his tenure at Boeing as someone capable of taking on challenges, fixing problems and turning them into successes. I believe he is fully qualified for the job.” 

Shanahan’s confirmation marks a smooth step in an otherwise rocky path to confirmation.

During Shanahan's confirmation hearing, Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) threatened to block the nomination over what he deemed were unsatisfactory answers on how to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

“Not a good beginning. Not a good beginning. Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee,” McCain warned.

After the hearing, Shanahan resubmitted his written answers, noting that he backed arming the Ukrainians. He also said the U.S. should be prepared to withdraw from the INF Treaty if Russia doesn't come back into compliance.

Then on Friday, McCain tried to clear Shanahan’s nomination and then set up a final vote in the evening, but was blocked both times by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Democrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.). 

Shanahan, whom Trump nominated in March, now replaces Bob Work. Work had stayed on in the role from the Obama administration until his successor was in place, and his last day at the Pentagon was Friday.