After a long battle, the Senate finally confirmed Eric Fanning as 22nd Secretary of the Army, making him the first openly gay civilian head of the service in history.
The final hold on Fanning’s confirmation broke after GOP Sen. Pat Roberts relented and moved the process forward, Defense News reports.
Roberts delayed Fanning’s confirmation because he wanted the Obama administration to promise no detainees from Guantanamo Bay would be sent to Kansas.
It seems as though the Obama administration has given that promise through the mouthpiece of Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, who apparently told Roberts there simply isn’t enough time left in Obama’s presidency to move detainees to Kansas.
Roberts has repeatedly insisted that his hold has had nothing whatsoever to do with Fanning’s sexuality. But the delay absolutely outraged the administration. The Obama administration has pushed through its entire tenure racial and sexual minorities into as many high-profile public offices as possible.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggested that Roberts was placing a delay on the process simply because he “relishes the opportunity to be before the camera.”
OutServe, a nationwide network of LGBT military personnel, hailed Fanning’s confirmation as a significant step for the LGBT military community.
“Eight months ago our Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama nominated a man who has a resume that is accomplished even by Washington standards to be Secretary of the Army and we can finally and long overdue say congratulations to Eric Fanning on being confirmed as the 22nd Secretary of the Army,” Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, said in a statement.
The Obama administration nominated Fanning last September. Shortly after the nomination, Fanning served as acting Army Secretary, which prompted backlash from Sen. John McCain , who argued that without approval from the Senate, Fanning’s position was a violation of the Vacancies Act. So, Fanning had to step down and await the results of the nomination, which have now come in with Roberts release of the hold.
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