A behind-the-scenes legislative hold placed on the nomination of the first black chief of a military service branch has reportedly been lifted.
Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. was nominated by President Trump to be the next Air Force chief of staff in March, and the Senate Armed Services Committee was poised to send the nomination through to the full Senate after his nomination hearing in May.
But one Republican senator on the panel had quietly held up the movement as leverage in a decision of where to base the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker, Defense News reported.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Republican, moved to hold up the nomination shortly following the hearing, the publication reported, citing three sources with knowledge familiar with the situation.
The senator later confirmed on Wednesday he had held up the nomination as he waited to receive responses to additional questions regarding the KC-46.
“You probably saw the confirmation hearing. I had some follow-up questions on it. They got back to me now and so he’s cleared hot,” he told the publication. “The questions I asked are serious and then when we have questions for the record, they’ve got to be answered appropriately. So we’re just going through that. And we got there, so yeah he’s cleared hot.”
Gen. Brown, who currently heads the Pacific Air Forces, is expected to replace Gen. David L. Goldfein as the service’s top uniformed officer.
Gen. Goldfein captured headlines this week after issuing a powerful statement to Air Force commanders calling the death of George Floyd — an unarmed black man who died on May 25 after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis — a “national tragedy.”
The nomination process has gone largely unnoticed amid congressional efforts on the coronavirus pandemic, preparations to mark up the annual defense policy bill, and recent pushback among lawmakers to President Trump’s threat to mobilize the military amid widespread anti-racism protests.
Gen. Brown’s nomination is expected to head to the Senate floor in the coming weeks where it is anticipated that he will be received favorably.
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