Senators on the Armed Services Committee could use the occasion of a hearing with Defense Secretary Robert Gates next week to consider the nominations for some key Pentagon posts, according to panel spokeswoman Tara Andringa.
On Inauguration Day, the committee received the nominations of Jeh Johnson to be the general counsel of the Defense Department, Robert Hale to be the Pentagon comptroller, Michele Flournoy to be the under secretary of defense for policy and William Lynn to be the deputy defense secretary.
While the committee has not scheduled it, a vote "could possibly happen" when the panel convenes Tuesday morning to hear from Gates, Andringa told us today.
Whether senators will vote on the Lynn nomination then is unclear. Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) announced today that members are awaiting an Obama administration assessment to see whether lobbying-related rules, outlined by the new president this week, would preclude Lynn from the No. 2 Pentagon job. (See our story on this issue here.)
Meanwhile, DOD officials saw the departure of acting Comptroller Douglas Brook over the weekend. According to a mid-January memo from Navy Secretary Donald Winter, Brook was scheduled to leave his Navy comptroller job, which he kept after becoming acting DOD comptroller last fall, on
Jan. 19 Jan. 17. Sources today confirmed this meant Brook was leaving the Pentagon altogether.
A DOD spokesman did not return an e-mail seeking comment on whether the administration would bother to name a new acting comptroller before the Senate confirms someone, probably Hale, for the job.
-- Sebastian Sprenger