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 WarrenUnited Auto Workers strike against GM poised to head into eighth day Omar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa MORE (Mass.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyMarkey challenges Democratic Senate campaign opponents to climate change debate Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey Markey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge MORE (Mass.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandNew Hampshire feels overlooked in Democratic presidential race Booker aide sounds alarm about campaign's funding O'Rourke gun confiscation talk alarms Democrats MORE (N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.), as well as Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOmar: Biden not the candidate to 'tackle a lot of the systematic challenges that we have' Seven takeaways from a busy Democratic presidential campaign weekend in Iowa Democrats go all out to court young voters for 2020 MORE (I-Vt.).

Lawmakers declined to drag out debate time Tuesday, with only Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedNegotiators kick off defense bill talks amid border wall, Iran debates Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Senate Democrats introduce legislation to limit foreign interference in elections 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 SchumerToomey on gun reform: 'Beto O'Rourke is not helping' Schumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey 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.