Grassley, Ernst vote to confirm new Defense Secretary

Catching up on news from last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Ashton Carter as secretary of defense by 93 votes to 5 (roll call) on February 12. Only five Republicans opposed the nomination, which is rare for President Barack Obama’s administration. Iowa’s Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst both supported Carter, and I’ve enclosed their statements after the jump. Grassley emphasized that he will “continue to press for clean, accurate audits at the Defense Department,” while Ernst praised Carter’s “strong support and dedication to our service members and their families.” Ernst serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which unanimously forwarded Carter’s nomination earlier in the week. Kristina Wong reported for The Hill, “Republicans on the committee were particularly pleased that Carter said he would consider recommending that Obama modify his Afghanistan troop drawdown schedule, if necessary, and that he was inclined to arm Ukraine against Russian aggression.”

I’ve also enclosed below Carter’s official bio, summarizing his extensive Pentagon experience.

On February 9, Grassley and Ernst joined their colleagues in unanimously confirming Michael Botticelli as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Grassley’s statement on the country’s new “drug czar” is after the jump too. He praised Botticelli for recognizing “the dangers of smoking marijuana.” In recent testimony before a U.S. House committee, Botticelli said “The [Obama] Administration continues to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana and other drugs.”

February 10 statement released by Senator Joni Ernst:

WASHINGTON, D.C – Today, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement after the Senate Armed Services Committee passed by a roll call vote the nomination of Dr. Ashton Carter as Secretary of Defense:

“I support Dr. Carter’s nomination as he has shown strong support and dedication to our service members and their families. Dr. Carter has proven he is willing to speak candidly to the Senate Armed Services Committee and it is my hope that he will serve as an independent mind and voice within the administration to improve our national security strategy and the welfare of our service members in this time of war, fiscal uncertainty and rising new challenges. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with Dr. Carter to ensure the Department of Defense has the tools needed to protect our nation, American interests, and to effectively partner with our allies,” said Senator Ernst.

The Senate Armed Services Committee nominated Dr. Carter by a vote of 25 – 0. The Senate is expected to vote on the confirmation of Secretary of Defense nominee Dr. Ashton Carter later this week.

Grassley to Continue Pressing for Accurate DoD Audits Under New Secretary

Feb 12, 2015

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on the confirmation of Ashton Carter as secretary of the Department of Defense.  Grassley is a long-time watchdog of Defense Department spending, including fixing the broken accounting system within the agency.  He released a report on the accounting problems in November 2013.

“When I met with Dr. Carter as a nominee, I was impressed with his independent approach to the job.  I emphasized the need to fix the Defense Department’s broken accounting system.  The process has to be improved if we’re going to be able to identify waste, fraud and abuse at the Pentagon.  The Defense Department is required to comply with federal government financial standards under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990.  Congress underscored the requirement in mandating that the Defense Department comply by 2017.  Then-Secretary Panetta said that was a priority for him.  I’ll continue to press for clean, accurate audits at the Defense Department that can hold the Pentagon bureaucracy accountable to the taxpayer.”

Official bio on U.S. Department of Defense website:

Ashton B. Carter served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense from October 2011 to December 2013.

Previously, Dr. Carter served as Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics from April 2009 until October 2011.  As Under Secretary, Dr. Carter led the Department’s efforts to accelerate the fulfillment of urgent operational needs; increase the Department’s buying power; and strengthen the nation¹s defenses against emerging threats.

Over the course of his career in public service, Dr. Carter has four times been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal.  For his contributions to intelligence, Dr. Carter was awarded the Defense Intelligence Medal.

Dr. Carter earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and in medieval history from Yale University, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and received his doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Prior to his most recent government service, Dr. Carter was chair of the International and Global Affairs faculty at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Co-Director of the Preventive Defense Project.   Dr. Carter was also Senior Partner at Global Technology Partners, a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, a member of the Board of Trustees of the MITRE Corporation and the Advisory Boards of MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories and the Draper Laboratory, and an advisor to Goldman Sachs.

During the Clinton Administration, Dr. Carter was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.  From 1990 until 1993, Dr. Carter was Director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and Chairman of the Editorial Board of International Security.  Previously, he held positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and Rockefeller University.

Dr. Carter is a member of the President’s Management Council and the National Council on Federal-Labor-Management Relations. He has previously served on the White House Government Accountability and Transparency Board, the Defense Science Board, the Defense Policy Board, the Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, and the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.  

Dr. Carter is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Diplomacy and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Physical Society.

In addition to authoring articles, scientific publications, government studies, and Congressional testimonies, Dr. Carter has co-edited and co-authored eleven books.

Dr. Carter is married to Stephanie Carter and has two grown children.

Grassley on Newly Confirmed Drug Czar, Marijuana Policy

Feb 10, 2015

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today made the following comment on Senate confirmation of Michael Botticelli as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, a position informally known as the “drug czar.”  The Senate on Monday confirmed the nomination 92-0.

“Director Botticelli recognizes the dangers of smoking marijuana, and he’s expressed concern about the increase in the number of teen-agers who don’t see marijuana as harmful.  His views are welcome in a presidential administration that hasn’t challenged state laws legalizing recreational marijuana and has often sent mixed signals about marijuana use.  He also has helped to combat the opioid epidemic that has plagued many communities in Iowa and elsewhere.  I look forward to continuing to work with Director Botticelli on drug control policy.”

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  • Will Ernst and Grassley vote to confirm Loretta Lynch as AG?

    • to my knowledge

      they have not yet taken a position.

      Grassley was sounding non-committal last month:

      Grassley Statement After Completion of Attorney General Hearing

      Jan 29, 2015

      Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa made the following statement after the hearing for U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch was completed.

      “I appreciate Ms. Lynch coming before the committee.  She has impressive qualifications, but a number of members want to know whether those qualifications can transfer to correcting the serious problems at the Justice Department.  Today’s witnesses provided valuable insight into those problems and I thank them for the time each of them took to share their unique perspectives.  

      “Going forward, committee members will have a week to submit questions to Ms. Lynch.  I hope she provides timely and responsive answers to the committee.   But, people should expect a thorough vetting of her answers.  There are still issues to consider before moving forward.

      “As Chairman, I was very pleased with the two days of testimony.  There was a lot of juggling with the votes on the floor, something we’re not used to around here, but overall it was a productive session.  I do regret, however, the treatment the outside witnesses received today.  It was unfortunate that one member felt the need to tarnish the integrity of Americans who came before the committee to help us evaluate a nominee for a very important position.

      “Every single one of these witnesses speaks directly to Ms. Lynch’s nomination.  The question in my mind is if Ms. Lynch will take the issues seriously and work to fix them.  In addition, it wasn’t too long ago that Democrats agreed it was perfectly appropriate to call witnesses to address what they viewed as problems at the Justice Department.

      “I look forward to reviewing the hearing record and reading her answers to our additional questions.”