In May, Trump’s second nominee — Tennessee State Sen. Mark Green — withdrew his name from consideration after what he called "false and misleading attacks" concerning his past comments on gay rights and evolution.
Additionally, Trump’s original Navy secretary pick — venture capitalist Philip Bilden — also withdrew from consideration in February, citing business conflicts. His replacement, businessman Richard Spencer, had a confirmation hearing earlier this month and is expected to get full Senate approval in coming weeks.
The nomination problems have left the armed services without service secretaries for much of Trump’s early administration. Robert Speer has been serving as the acting Army secretary since late January, and Sean Stackley as acting Navy secretary over the same period. Both are holdovers from President Barack Obama’s administration.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson was sworn into her leadership post in mid-May.
Congressional leaders have lamented the slow pace of defense nominations for Trump, while administration officials have accused Democrats in the Senate of slow-walking numerous qualified candidates.
A confirmation hearing for Esper likely won’t take place until September at the earliest, given the extended legislative break scheduled for the Senate next month.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.