Week ahead: Senators move to clear backlog of Pentagon nominees

Week ahead: Senators move to clear backlog of Pentagon nominees
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The backlog of Pentagon nominees awaiting Senate confirmation may soon get some relief.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump attacks Meghan McCain and her family In Montana, a knock-down redistricting fight over a single line McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral MORE (R-Ariz.) has been holding up several nominees amid disputes about the amount of information the Pentagon is giving Congress about the ambush in Niger, strategies for Afghanistan and fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

But on Thursday, McCain emerged from a classified briefing on Niger satisfied, saying that he will lift some of the holds.

"We are certainly talking about that, and we're making progress, and I will lift some of the holds," he told reporters.


Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) teed up floor consideration for John Gibson to be the Pentagon's deputy chief management officer. A vote on Gibson is expected at some point in the next week.

Among the nominees who have been swept up in McCain's dispute with the Pentagon is Army secretary nominee Mark Esper. The Army remains the only service branch without a Senate-confirmed secretary.

In all, 18 nominees are pending in the committee, including John Rood for undersecretary of Defense for policy, Robert Wilkie for undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, and Joseph Kernan for undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.

Late Friday, the Senate Armed Services Committee announced a Thursday hearing on Esper, Wilkie and Kernan's nominations.

Meanwhile, Congress and outside groups have a number of hearings and events slated for the coming week.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE will testify on the authorizations for the use of military force before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 5 p.m. Monday at Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 419.  

A Senate Judiciary Committee subpanel will have a hearing on online extremist content and Russian disinformation at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. 

The Center for New American Security will hold an "Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit" with the chair of the Defense Innovation Advisory Board starting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at 1152 15th St. NW in Washington. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold an open hearing on social media influence in the 2016 U.S. elections at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Hart Senate Office Building, room 216. 

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on North Korea, with testimony from a high-ranking defector, at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2172. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nominations for undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, U.S. ambassador to Lesotho, U.S. ambassador to Namibia, U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg and chief of protocol at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Dirksen 419. 

A House Appropriations subcommittee will hear from U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green on accountable soft power in the national interest at 10 a.m. Wednesday in a webcast event. 

The House Oversight subcommittee on national security will hold a hearing on the overview of 16 years of involvement in Afghanistan at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Rayburn 2154. 

The House Intelligence Committee's Russia Investigative task force will hear from the general counsels for Google, Facebook and Twitter at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the House Visitor Center, room 210. 

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing to consider a number of nominees, including Mark T. Esper to be Army secretary, Robert L. Wilkie to be undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, Joseph D. Kernan to be undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and Guy B. Roberts to be assistant secretary of Defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs. The hearing is in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room 50. 

Kurt Campbell, former assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs will speak at the Wilson Center on what to expect from the presidential visit to the Asia-Pacific region at 10 a.m. Thursday at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington. 

The Senate Intelligence Committee will hold another closed briefing on intelligence matters at 2 p.m. Thursday at Hart 219. 

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