Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Thursday said he would block civilian nominations to the Defense Department from going to the chamber floor for a confirmation vote if President Obama carries out his threat to veto the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill sent to his desk earlier this week.
“They’re not agreeing to what’s necessary to protect and serve the men and women who are serving in the military, so why the hell should we support their civilians to support or work for a failed institution, a failed policy, a failed branch of government?” McCain said, reported CQ.
McCain has been slowing the advance of civilian nominations through his committee since he became chairman at the beginning of the year. Initially, McCain said the suspension of hearings and votes on civilian nominations was payback for Democrats changing Senate rules while they were still in the majority to allow for simple majority votes to end debate on nominees. But more recently his rationale focused on Obama’s threat to veto the conference report for the defense authorization bill over its reliance on DOD’s war account to evade the statutory spending caps.
There currently are 13 civilian nominations for DOD posts pending in the Armed Services Committee, including John Conger, who Obama nominated in March to be the principal deputy to the Pentagon comptroller. With his nomination in limbo, Conger remains the acting assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment.