US Sen. Heinrich Martin has placed a hold on President Obama's nominee for Air Force Secretary. (U.S. Senate)
Deborah Lee James has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next for secretary of the Air Force. / Mike Morones/Staff
WASHINGTON — A second US senator has placed a hold on President Obama’s nominee for Air Force Secretary, Defense News has learned.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, a freshman Democrat from New Mexico, is holding up the nomination of Deborah Lee James, according to a spokesman.
“Senator Heinrich has placed a hold on the President’s nominee for Air Force Secretary,” Whitney Potter, Heinrich’s spokeswoman, wrote in an emailed statement. “However, he continues to have constructive conversations with the Air Force and is confident they will reach a resolution soon.”
Potter would not answer inquiries as to why Heinrich, who is not on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, placed the hold, other than to say it was unrelated to a potential Air Force decision to cut the A-10 close air support platform.
On Wednesday, an aide to Sen. Kelly Ayotte confirmed the New Hampshire republican had frozen James’ candidacy over the A-10.
For its part, the Air Force remains confident James, an SAIC executive who previously served as assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs from 1993 to 1998, will eventually be confirmed as the second female Air Force secretary in the service’s history.
“We look forward to [James] being confirmed,” Maj. Toni Whaley, USAF spokeswoman, said. “That’s a decision that’s with the Senate, and we’re going to let the process play out.”