“While the Administration believes the designation of Fanning as Acting Secretary of the Army is consistent with the Vacancies Act, as a show of comity to address these concerns, Fanning has agreed to step out of his acting role to focus on achieving confirmation in the near future,” Cook wrote in his statement.
“We expect this move to be of a short duration and for Fanning to achieve speedy confirmation,” Cook continued. “He remains one of the most qualified nominees to be a Service Secretary, having served in many senior executive positions in each of the three military departments and as Chief of Staff of the Department.”
Army Undersecretary Patrick Murphy will serve as acting secretary in the interim period.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., placed a hold on Fanning’s nomination in early November to protest President Barack Obama’s ongoing campaign to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and transfer detainees to the United States, Roberts’ office confirmed. The move was part of an effort to prevent the White House from taking executive action to close the facility.
Fanning became Air Force undersecretary in April 2013. He served several months as acting secretary while the confirmation of now-Secretary Deborah Lee James was stuck in Congress. Before that, he was deputy undersecretary of the Navy and its deputy chief management officer from 2009-2013.
When Defense Secretary Ash Carter entered office in early 2015, one of his first moves was tapping Fanning as his chief of staff. In that role, he helped organize his boss’ transition to the Pentagon’s top spot and assisted in day-to-day operations.
In addition to his long resume, Fanning would also mark a milestone as the first openly gay secretary of a military branch.
The Senate has yet to set a date for Fanning’s hearing.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., “is looking to hold a hearing to consider Mr. Fanning’s nomination as soon as possible,” a McCain spokesman said.
For months McCain had delayed confirmations for some key civilian Defense Department nominees to protest Democratic rule changes in the confirmation process and Obama’s threat to veto the 2016 defense policy bill. Congressional leaders have since reached a budget deal, and Obama signed the disputed defense policy bill into law.
The freeze had not applied universally, as lawmakers approved the appointments of top-level personnel: a new Army chief of staff, chief of naval operations, Marine Corps commandant, as well as the defense secretary Ash Carter, chairman and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and a deputy chief management officer.
The logjam cleared after lawmakers and the president reached a deal on the federal budget deal, but also after Carter, during a SASC hearing, admonished its members over delays in approving defense-related nominees, “especially in a time of conflict.”
Eric Fanning delivers remarks during the 2013 Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month Ceremony at the Pentagon Auditorium on June 25, 2013 in Washington.
Eric K. Fanning would be the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch
The U.S. Senate must confirm Fanning before he can lead the Army
Washington (CNN)President Barack Obama on Friday nominated Eric K. Fanning to be secretary of the Army, which could make him the first openly gay secretary of a U.S. military branch.
The U.S. Senate must confirm Fanning before he can lead the Army.
“Eric brings many years of proven experience and exceptional leadership to this new role,” the President said in a statement. “I am grateful for his commitment to our men and women in uniform, and I am confident he will help lead America’s Soldiers with distinction.”
This historic move is one of many steps the Obama administration has taken to advance the rights of the LGBT community in the armed forces. In 2010, the President signed a law ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and earlier this year, the President moved to allow those who identify as transgender to openly serve as well.
Fanning has served as acting under secretary of the Army since June, and before that, served as chief of staff to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Fanning also served as under secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy.
In a statement, Carter called Fanning an “excellent choice” to lead the Army.
“Eric served as my first chief of staff at the Pentagon, and it has been a privilege over the course of my career to work alongside him and watch him develop into one of our country’s most knowledgeable, dedicated, and experienced public servants,” Carter said. “I know he will strengthen our Army, build on its best traditions, and prepare our ground forces to confront a new generation of challenges.”
The American Military Partner Association, a support group for the families of LGBT service members, also praised Obama’s decision.
“We are thrilled to see Eric Fanning nominated to lead the world’s greatest Army,” AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said in a statement. “History continues to be written and equality marches forward with the nomination of an openly gay man to serve in this significantly important role. Fanning’s expertise and knowledge within the defense community together with his sensitivity to issues faced by LGBT service members and their families is why we urge the Senate to move quickly to confirm his appointment.”
CNN – SNN.BZ