On Tuesday, the Senate approved Eric Fanning to become the new secretary of the Army, giving the service its first openly gay secretary.
Fanning has previously served as acting secretary and undersecretary of the Air Force and is widely recognized for his accomplishments.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the nomination in March, but Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) prevented the committee from bringing the nomination to a vote until the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act could be finalized.
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The National Defense Authorization Act largely maintained the status quo on current detainees of Guantanamo Bay, among other measures.
“These provisions confirm that President Obama will not be able to move detainees to the mainland … in the coming year,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who leads the Senate Armed Services Committee.
According to Roberts, he dropped his hold on Fanning’s nomination as soon as Obama was no longer able to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S. mainland. “The clock has run out,” said Roberts, who had a vested interest in making sure detainees were kept out.
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The Pentagon had previously sent teams to Kansas, Roberts’ home state, to evaluate potential housing alternatives for those imprisoned in the detention center.
“My issue has never — let me be very clear — has never been with Mr. Fanning’s character, his courage or his capability,” said Roberts on Tuesday. “He will be a tremendous leader as Army secretary.”
Fanning was confirmed by unanimous consent, despite contentions. The National Defense Authorization Act is expected to reach the Senate floor as early as next week.
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