Senate to consider Ashton Carter's nomination as defense secretary in February

Ashton Carter at a December, 2014 White House ceremony during which President Barack Obama announced his nomination as secretary of defense.


By TRAVIS J. TRITTEN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 6, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Senate has decided to delay consideration of Ashton Carter as the new secretary of defense until next month.

The new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, R-Ariz., had said he hoped to hear and vote on the nomination as soon as possible this month. But the hearing was pushed to February at the request of Carter, who is recovering from back surgery last month, according to a Senate aide.

Carter is the former second-in-charge at the Pentagon and the White House pick to replace Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who announced his resignation in November and agreed to stay on until his successor is chosen. High-level administrative nominees including the defense secretary must be approved by the Senate before taking office.

A date for the hearing was not yet set but more details on scheduling were expected next week, the aide said.

There is no indication so far that Carter will face opposition from the committee, which is now under Republican majority control in the new session of Congress. McCain has called him a “highly competent, experienced, hard-working, and committed public servant.”

Carter worked under prior presidential administrations and was the deputy defense secretary from 2011 to 2013 and left the department after being passed over for the top spot. Unlike the current defense secretary, he has no experience in Congress or the uniformed military.

Hagel is a former Senator and Vietnam veteran who has been a loyal backer of the administration’s military strategies. But he decided to bow out under pressure from the Obama administration after the U.S. began its offensive against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in August.

Twitter: @Travis_Tritten