Senate confirms Pentagon policy chief criticized by Republicans for tweets
The Senate on Tuesday narrowly confirmed President Biden’s embattled pick to lead the Pentagon’s policy shop, considered the department’s third most powerful civilian job.
The Senate voted 49-45 to confirm Colin Kahl, who came under attack from Republicans over past tweets.
Republicans unified against Kahl, forcing Vice President Harris to break a tie on a procedural vote on his nomination last week.
Harris had been expected to also be needed to break ties in another procedural vote earlier Tuesday and in Kahl’s final confirmation vote Tuesday evening. But several Republicans missed Tuesday’s votes, letting Kahl win confirmation more easily.
“Thank you to @POTUS, @VP, and @SecDef for your faith and confidence in me,” Kahl tweeted after the vote. “Thank you to the Senate for today’s confirmation vote. And thank you to my family and friends for all your support, love, good humor, and patience. Time to get to work!”
Kahl came under fierce criticism from Republicans who argued his fiery tweets criticizing the Trump administration and former President Trump’s GOP supporters show he is too partisan for a Department of Defense job.
“I can’t recall a single nominee for a top DOD position in the last 40 years who didn’t garner at least one vote from the other party,” Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a floor speech Tuesday that also said Kahl’s tweet’s “show a history of volatile behavior.”
“We need nominees who will work with members of both sides of the aisle, and those members have to trust that person in return,” Inhofe added.
Republicans also took issue with some of Kahl’s policy positions, particularly his support for the Iran nuclear deal.
During his confirmation hearing, Kahl apologized for the “disrespectful” language in his tweets. He also pledged to approach the Pentagon job in a nonpartisan way, saying his past government service demonstrates his ability to do so.
Kahl served as Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice president and before that was the Obama administration’s deputy assistant secretary of Defense for the Middle East.
Democrats dismissed criticism of Kahl as a proxy battle over GOP opposition to Biden’s efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal and praised his qualifications.
–Updated at 6:51 p.m.