Senate confirms Trump's Army secretary nominee

Senate confirms Trump's Army secretary nominee
© Greg Nash

The Senate has confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE’s choice to be the top civilian leading the Army.

In a Thursday afternoon voice vote, the Senate confirmed Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyArmy closing recruiting stations due to coronavirus outbreak Overnight Defense: Esper postpones trip to help with coronavirus response | Pentagon curtails exercise in Africa over outbreak | Afghanistan to release 1,500 Taliban prisoners Esper postpones overseas trip to lead Pentagon's coronavirus response MORE as Army secretary. McCarthy, who has served as Army under secretary since 2017, will fill the role formerly held by Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Navy chief resigns over aircraft carrier controversy | Trump replaces Pentagon IG | Hospital ship crew member tests positive for coronavirus More than 200 sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt test positive for coronavirus Navy chief resigns amid uproar over handling of aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis MORE until he became Defense secretary in July.

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McCarthy’s confirmation comes a week after his nomination was advanced by the Senate Armed Services Committee and two weeks after his confirmation hearing.

The Senate has prioritized filling Pentagon vacancies the last couple months after the department spent most of the year without Senate-confirmed leaders.

Earlier Thursday, the Senate confirmed Gen. John Hyten to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after his nomination was stalled for months over sexual assault allegations against him.

McCarthy, a former Army ranger whose prior jobs include special assistant to former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, professional staff member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and vice president at defense contractor Lockheed Martin, was seen as an uncontroversial nominee who earned praise on Capitol Hill for his performance as under secretary.

During his confirmation hearing, Democrats grilled him on Trump’s decision to use $3.6 billion in military construction funding on his proposed border wall.

McCarthy pledged to get senators the legal opinion on the use of military construction funds for the border wall.

With McCarthy’s confirmation, Air Force Secretary nominee Barbara Barrett remains the last major Pentagon nominee awaiting a vote.

Barrett was advanced by the Armed Services Committee the same day as McCarthy, but a full Senate vote has been slowed by a hold placed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

Blumenthal opposes Barrett because she would not commit during her hearing to issuing an Air Force-wide policy banning service members from staying at Trump properties amid a controversy over airmen staying at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland during refueling stops.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash Phase-four virus relief hits a wall MORE (R-Ky.) filed a motion to invoke cloture on Barrett’s nomination, setting her up for a full Senate vote when the chamber returns from its two-week recess in October.