WASHINGTON — Congressional proceedings for Pentagon nominees this week will proceed as planned, despite the absence of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain for medical reasons.
A senior SASC Republican — Sen. Jim Inhofe, of Oklahoma — is set to preside over the confirmation hearings for key Defense Department nominees previously set for Tuesday, committee spokeswoman Rachel Hoff said Monday.
The first Senate floor vote on President Donald Trump's pick for the Pentagon's No. 2, Patrick Shanahan, is still set to occur at 5:30 p.m., according to a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. If that vote is successful, it sets up a confirmation vote, likely before the end of the week.
Typically, the chairman of the SASC would preside over a nomination hearing and shepherd through the nomination of a senior Pentagon nominee. It was not immediately clear whether Inhofe will assume such a role for Shanahan's nomination.
McCain, R-Ariz., is due to recover at home with family in Arizona this week following a July 14 procedure at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix to remove a blood clot from above his left eye, according to a statement his office released Saturday.
Among other well-wishers on Twitter, SASC's top Democrat, Jack Reed, of Rhode Island, said McCain's "indomitable spirit will carry him through. Wishing him a speedy recovery & looking forward to working with him soon."
Shanahan, a Boeing executive nominated for the deputy defense secretary job, was advanced out of the SASC by a voice vote on June 28. He is one of five picks for the Pentagon approved by the SASC and awaiting a floor vote. On Thursday, McConnell set the Monday vote to advance Shanahan.
The SASC will consider five nominees on Tuesday, including Air Force Gen. Paul Selva for reappointment as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; John Gibson II to be deputy chief management officer of the Defense Department; and Matthew Donovan to be undersecretary of the Air Force.
McConnell has announced he will "defer consideration" of a key Republican goal, dismantling the Affordable Care Act until McCain returns. It's been widely reported that without McCain, McConnell will not have the number of votes he needs.