James Inhofe presses Trump for permanent pick to head Pentagon

March 26, 2019

The powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is urging the White House to nominate a permanent secretary of defense “soon.”

“We need to have a nominee for the secretary of Defense,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said Tuesday, encouraging President Trump to pick a permanent successor to former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned in December.

The senator has previously explained that having an acting secretary like Patrick Shanahan in the post for a long time hurts the Pentagon’s clout overseas.

“I know the president says all the time he likes to deal with the temporary people in his administration,” the senator told The Washington Times earlier this month, but added U.S. allies and adversaries are less likely to heed someone who may be in the job for a short period of time.

“We have too many threats facing this nation to have so many key [Defense Department] officials serving in an ‘acting’ capacity,” Mr. Inhofe said Tuesday.

The chairman also touched on a new Pentagon inspector general’s investigation into whether Mr. Shanahan used his ties to aerospace giant Boeing to steer lucrative contracts toward his former employer and away from rivals such as Lockheed Martin. Mr. Shanahan has consistently denied the accusations.

Sen. Inhofe said that if President Trump taps Mr. Shanahan to fill the permanent position, he would “welcome the [inspector general’s] thorough but expeditious examination of any outstanding issues.”