Reed intends to make a fresh push to confirm Biden's Pentagon nominees
WASHINGTON The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, D-R.I., has said that this week he will continue his efforts to convict the US Senate to confirm.
In the face of renewed tensions with Russia and the United States, Chuck Schumer, a Senate Majority Leader, is expected to take floor time to snag procedural votes to install senior Pentagon officials.
The nominations have been stalled in part due to the opposition of the Republican people, which is still a challenge. Republican Sens., of Missouri, and Ted Cruz, of Texas, have indicated Thursday that they will continue to force procedural voting on Biden nominees to the Pentagon and State Department public stands to highlight Bidens criticism of the country's foreign policy.
Nine nominees have been relegated to the Senate Armed Services Committee, but are waiting for a vote. Few State Department and Pentagon nominees have come to the Senate floor in recent weeks as the chamber's leadership has tried to pass key parts of Biden's domestic agenda.
On Thursday, Biden met with Democrats on Capitol Hill to advance voting rights legislation. Reed said he would lobby for the Senate to turn to nominees.
If we have to, were going to bring people to the floor to vote, Reed said in Defense News. Recognizing that voting rights is the most crucial issue, but once that has been resolved, I think were going to ask if we can get access to the floor and then begin moving these [nominees].
Before the holiday break, use the unanimous consent procedure to confirm 32 noncontroversial ambassadors and senior State Department officials. In exchange, the Senate held a vote Thursday on Cruzs bill to levy sanctions aimed at Nord Stream 2, a system of gas pipelines from Russia to Europe.
After the Senate approved the bill, Cruz told reporters he will continue to solicit votes on other unspecified nominees until Democrats "stop surrendering to Russia."
There are i believe about ten holds in place right now, Cruz said. I would certainly anticipate more will be forthcoming as additional nominations come down the pike. But I am also very happy to continue lifting holds in exchange for progress stopping Russias aggression.
The question of whether similar agreements will be made to clear a path for other nominees is not immediately clear.
Hawley, who has said he will maintain his own convictions until his defense secretary and other senior administration officials resign because of the chaotic departure from Afghanistan, said Thursday that he and Reed had some tentative discussions to resolve his concerns.
Hawley said his commitment to keep him committed to getting some accountability for the situation in Afghanistan.
Reed asked if the conversations were aimed at a compromise, but said that the recently passed defense policy bill has established a commission to investigate the Afghanistan conflict and that he does not agree with Hawley's approach.
I've talked to Josh, and he's a very thoughtful member, a very supportive contributor to the committee, but I don't think we can treat national security and DoD nominees as trading bait for other things, even if they have a tinge of national security, Reed said.
Of the 64 Pentagon positions that require Senate confirmation, the Senate has confirmed 25 of Biden's nominees, 21 are waiting for Senate action and three nominees have been announced, but not formally nominated.
The White House expressed concern about the Senate's slowing speed of confirming nominees to fill key roles. Democratic leaders argue that these delays were based on individual nominees and their qualifications rather than on blanket holds.
That was not a tragedy during the Trump administration, and there were no wholesale holds, said a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The delays are causing serious damage to national security, according to Democrats and Republicans.
"It's interesting, because people who are unhappy with our posture vis a vis Russia and other threats are those who are holding up our ability to do the job," Shaheen said. "I think it's unfortunate, because those [nominees] are the people we need to protect American interests around the world.
Joe Gould is a senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, which covers the intersection of national security policy, policy, and the defense industry.