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 Ann WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying MORE (Mass.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Ocasio-Cortez endorses Markey in Senate race amid speculation over Kennedy candidacy House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (I-Vt.).

Lawmakers declined to drag out debate time Tuesday, with only Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedIs the Senate ready to protect American interests in space? Trump moving forward to divert .6B from military projects for border wall GOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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.