Four Trump Pentagon picks breeze through confirmation hearing

Four of President Trump’s pending Pentagon nominees largely appeared to receive the backing of Senate Armed Service lawmakers during a Tuesday confirmation hearing.

Committee lawmakers gave no contentious or difficult lines of questioning to John Gibson, the intended Defense Department deputy chief management officer; Ellen Lord, the likely undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics (AT&L); Lucian Niemeyer, pending assistant secretary for energy, installations, and environment; and Matthew Donovan, picked for Air Force undersecretary.

“I didn’t see any red flags,” Niemeyer remarked to attendees after the hearing concluded just shy of a quick 90 minutes. 

Lord, who was CEO of Textron Systems from October 2012 until June when the White House announced her nomination, was expected to face opposition from Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). 

McCain last month said he was uncomfortable with executives from top defense firms being named as Pentagon officials. He even brought up the issue during the nomination hearing for former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan.

The Senate earlier on Tuesday confirmed Shanahan as deputy secretary of Defense by a vote of 92-7. 

But McCain was not present at this confirmation hearing. The lawmaker is recovering in Arizona after undergoing surgery Friday to remove a blood clot from above his left eye.

Even if Lord makes is confirmed by the Senate, she may have to repeat the process in February 2018.

A congressionally mandated division of her position is expected Feb. 1 after lawmakers last year moved to split the role into an undersecretary of research and engineering — focused on developing new concepts and technology — and an undersecretary of acquisition and sustainment, to focus on keeping in line current acquisition programs.

Lord confirmed Tuesday that she would take the acquisition and sustainment job. Congress had intended the AT&L job take on the new research and engineering position, but it’s unclear whether the decision fell to Lord or was decided by others.

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