Senate confirms one more top Pentagon job before leaving town

Senate confirms one more top Pentagon job before leaving town

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The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jim Inhofe, and Ranking Member Jack Reed are seen before the start of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., July 30, 2019. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed Vice Adm. Michael Gilday to be the next head of the Navy, continuing a productive two weeks of filling key Pentagon civilian and military positions.

Gilday was confirmed by a voice vote. He will receive a fourth star in September when he is promoted to be Chief of Naval Operations. He now is director of the joint staff.

It is the first time in more than five decades a three-star admiral has leapfrogged to the top uniformed Navy post.

In the past two weeks the Senate has confirmed Mark Esper as defense secretary, David Norquist as deputy defense secretary, Gen. Mark Milley as the next chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gilday.

There are roughly 50 senior positions in the Pentagon requiring Senate confirmation that remain empty or are filled by individuals in “acting” capacity. They include secretaries of the Army and Air Force.

The No. 3 civilian position at the Pentagon, the chief management officer, is being handled by Lisa Hershman. She has been nominated but has not had her paperwork sent to the Senate.

Gilday’s elevation came after Adm. Bill Moran, former Vice Chief of Naval Operations— who had been nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate for the post— opted to retire.

Moran said he stepped aside because of an open investigation into emails he exchanged with a retired former staffer “who had while in uniform been investigated and held accountable over allegations of inappropriate behavior,” the Navy said.

Gilday’s quick confirmation, one day after his hearing, is in contrast to the nomination of Gen. John Hyten to be the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hyde has been accused of sexual assault allegations, which he denies and an Air Force investigation did not corroborate. His nomination was sent to the Senate by the Senate Armed Services Committee with a recommendation for approval this week.

However, the Senate did not take the nomination up for a vote before leaving Thursday. Instead, it was placed on the Senate’s executive calendar, “subject to nominee’s commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate.”

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