Senate confirms top State Department official for political-military affairs

By Justin Doubleday / April 30, 2019 at 4:20 PM

The Senate today confirmed R. Clarke Cooper as the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, nearly 300 days after he was first nominated.

Cooper was confirmed by a vote of 90-8 today. As the head of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Cooper will be the State Department's primary link to the Defense Department, overseeing foreign military sales, security assistance, military operations and defense trade. The bureau had been led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mark String since he was appointed last July.

According to a White House biography, Cooper most recently served as the director of intelligence planning for Joint Special Operations Command’s Joint Inter-Agency Task Force in the National Capital Region. As a combat veteran and member of the U.S. Army Reserve, Cooper's active-duty assignments included tours with U.S. Africa Command, Special Operations Command Africa, Joint Special Operations Task Force Trans-Sahara, and Special Operations Command Central, according to the White House.

Cooper led the Log Cabin Republicans from 2010 to 2012. During the George W. Bush administration, he served in various State Department positions, including senior advisor in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau from 2006 to 2007, and advisor at United States Embassy-Baghdad from 2005 to 2006.

Cooper's nomination was first received by the Senate early last July, but it was placed on hold in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) over his objections to the Trump administration allowing organizations to post blueprints for 3D-printed guns online.

The Foreign Relations Committee advanced Cooper's nomination to the Senate floor in April. It was not immediately clear why Markey lifted his hold on the nomination.