Alumnus sworn in as defense secretary after holding interim role

An alumnus has been sworn in as the United States’ 27th defense secretary, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Mark Esper, who received his doctorate in public policy at GW in 2008, was overwhelmingly confirmed by the Senate with a 90-8 vote. He is the Pentagon’s first permanent head in nearly seven months, according to The Times.

Esper has served as the acting defense secretary since June 18, when former acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan pulled out of the confirmation process.

“It is an honor of a lifetime to be appointed Secretary of Defense and to lead the greatest military in history,” Esper said at the ceremony yesterday. “I will do so with that same energy and commitment to duty, honor and country that I have for nearly four decades since my early days at West Point.”

For the past two years, Esper worked as the Army’s secretary where he was awarded the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He also held positions as the Heritage Foundation’s chief of staff and a senior Republican staffer on Capitol Hill.

“I am confident that he will be an outstanding Secretary of Defense,” President Donald Trump said at the swearing in ceremony. “I have absolutely no doubt about it. He is outstanding in every way. And we’re honored to have you aboard.”

The eight senators who voted against his confirmation – including presidential candidates Cory Booker, D–NJ., Kirsten Gillibrand, D–NY., Kamala Harris, D–CA., Amy Klobuchar, D–MN. and Elizabeth Warren, D–Mass. – expressed concerns about Esper’s lobbying for defense contractor Raytheon, The Times reported.

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