The Senate has confirmed Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist Mark Esper as secretary of defense. The 55-year-old won Senate confirmation on Tuesday by a vote of 90-8 and is to be sworn in by day's end. His confirmation ends a stretch of seven months the Pentagon didn't have a permanent leader. That stretch began when Jim Mattis stepped down last New Year's Eve. Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan became the acting secretary, but after six months as the fill-in the former Boeing executive abruptly quit, reports the AP.
Esper then became the acting secretary, but once he was nominated last week he had to step aside until a Senate vote. For the past week the Pentagon has been run by yet another fill-in, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer. The Washington Post points out the bipartisan support Esper enjoys, as reflected by the vote tally. The Army vet, who served in the Gulf War, had since late 2017 been Army secretary, with other political and government jobs in between. Many "see Esper's confirmation as an important step toward restoring authority at a Pentagon that is increasingly at odds with Trump’s inner circle of White House advisers," the Post observes.
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