WASHINGTON — If you work for industry and want to instead serve in the Pentagon, you had best hope your nomination is already underway — because if not, you might not be getting the job.
On Thursday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., put his foot down on additional industry executives joining the Defense Department.
Speaking at a nomination hearing featuring Mark Esper, a Raytheon executive up for the job of secretary of the Army, McCain indicated he would not create an issue for those nominees already undergoing the vetting process.
But from this point on, industry figures who are not already under consideration by the committee are unwelcome, McCain said.
“I want to be clear that my reservations grew out of early consultations I had with the administration about potential nominations, including yours and a handful of others that were yet to be nominated,” McCain said. “It was then that I decided I couldn’t support further nominees with that background, beyond those we had already discussed.”
This is not the first time McCain has raised concerns about nominees from industry, but to this point, he has yet to vote against any of them.
Among major jobs filled from the defense industry are Patrick Shanahan, a Boeing vice president who is now deputy secretary of defense; John Rood, a Lockheed Martin vice president who is nominated for undersecretary of defense for policy; Ellen Lord, a Textron executive who now heads the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics; and Ryan McCarthy, the undersecretary of the Army who previously worked at Lockheed.
Esper would represent yet another top job filled by an industry executive, but won’t be facing a challenge from McCain. At the top of the hearing, McCain told the assembled group of nominees he “intends to move your confirmations through as quickly as possible.”
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.