Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan possibly could remain in place indefinitely without being nominated as a permanent replacement for his predecessor Jim Mattis, but such a move could face a constitutional challenge, reports the Washington Post. There is no statutory limit on how long a confirmed deputy defense secretary can lead the Pentagon on an acting basis. Several legal experts, however, questioned whether the Constitution allows Shanahan to serve in that capacity indefinitely. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act allows Shanahan to carry out defense secretary duties for 210 days, but that limit can be extended if Trump nominates someone else for the post permanently. President Trump has said he is in no rush to find a permanent replacement and said Shanahan “could be there for a long time,” although he did not say whether he meant in an acting capacity. … Trump denied news reports that he is considering former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) as his next Pentagon chief, reported the Hill. “The story in the New York Times regarding Jim Webb being considered as the next Secretary of Defense is FAKE NEWS. I’m sure he is a fine man, but I don’t know Jim, and never met him. Patrick Shanahan, who is acting secretary of defense, is doing a great job!” the president tweeted Friday.
DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber Smith