WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed David Norquist to be the deputy secretary of defense, locking in the Pentagon’s top two leaders for the first time in 2019.
Norquist was confirmed by voice vote Tuesday evening, just a week after his nomination papers arrived in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee and six days after his nomination hearing — a sign of how uncontroversial his nomination has become.
Confirmed as the Pentagon’s comptroller in 2017, has served as acting deputy defense secretary since the start of the year. He has drawn praise from senators on both sides of the aisle for his work with the Pentagon’s first audit, and early this year started seeing vocal support from SASC chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who pushed the White House to formally nominate Norquist.
While the role of the deputy secretary varies from person to person, Norquist is expected to take over as the point man for the department on big-picture budget and technology issues.
He is also expected to take a hard look at the proposed Raytheon and United Technologies merger, which if approved would create one of the largest defense firms in the world.
The deputy secretary will guide the Pentagon’s oversight of that pending merger, he told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing earlier this month. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a former Raytheon executive, has recused himself from matters pertaining to his former employer.
The Pentagon’s undersecretary for acquisitions, Ellen Lord, will analyze the risks to the industrial base risks and competition and make a recommendation. In mergers like this, the potential concerns would be a loss of competition or disruption for any specific products the military relies upon.
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.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.