Biden's pick for DOD deputy AQ chief advances to Senate floor

By Briana Reilly / September 28, 2022 at 12:08 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today green-lit President Biden's nominee for Pentagon deputy acquisition chief.

Radha Plumb, who was tapped to be the Defense Department’s deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, was advanced on a 21-5 roll call vote during a closed-door meeting this morning.

The move came after Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) in late July threatened to place a hold on Plumb and two other DOD picks over officials’ decision to suspend a years-in-the-work project to build an access road for the Ambler Mining District in northwestern Alaska.

In February, the Interior Department found “significant deficiencies” in past environmental reviews of the project, which was first approved in summer 2020, media reports earlier this year show. The two other nominees Sullivan targeted are Laura Taylor-Kale, Biden’s choice for assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, and Brendan Owens, nominated to be assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment.

“I’m not going to help move your nominations forward, even though I think you’re qualified, you have important positions, but this is important,” he told Plumb and Taylor-Kale during their July 28 nomination hearing. “Same day the president holds a summit on critical minerals, they shut down the biggest critical mineral supplies in America, maybe in the world, because of their relentless war on the state of Alaska. I need answers, and then your nominations can move.”

Sullivan has since backed down, as Defense News reported last week, though he had signaled he’d force a roll call vote for Plumb. He and fellow Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) recently urged the Interior Department in a letter to quickly re-approve the access road project.

Separately, senators on the panel earlier this month signed off on Taylor-Kale's and Owens’ nominations.