Ahead of the Senate's vote to confirm Dr. Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following remarks in support of Dr. Esper:
As Prepared for Delivery:
We all agree that we need Senate-confirmed leadership in place at the Department of Defense—namely Secretary of Defense.
A confirmed Secretary of Defense sends a signal to the world. This is the person who has the trust of our President, our military, Congress and the country to keep our nation safe.
Dr. Mark Esper is the right man for the job. He is a great choice to lead the Pentagon, and I’m proud to support him.
And I’m not the only one. In fact, I’d like to take a moment to share some of the bipartisan support for Dr. Esper from defense experts, former officials and my colleagues:
Sen. Kaine from Virginia said at Dr. Esper’s confirmation hearing: “He is a person of sound character and moral courage. He’s been proactive and transparent…trademarks of exceptional leadership.”
Secretary Mattis—you remember him—when Dr. Esper was being sworn in as Secretary of the Army, then Secretary of Defense Mattis said: “The bottom line is the virtuous and vile alike have written history, but let’s remember here today that we’re the good guys… and this is the man who can take us forward.”
Mark Jacobson, a senior advisor to former Secretary Ash Carter said: “This is someone who can work across the aisle. This is somebody who can work with Congress. And that’s really what defines him. A soldier, a scholar.”
And Senate Majority Leader McConnell said: “Anybody impartial would have to have come away impressed by Dr. Esper’s mastery, intelligence, and thoroughness.”
My colleagues on the Armed Services Committee also widely support Dr. Esper’s nomination, advancing his nomination with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote.
Across the Capitol, both the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee support Dr. Esper.
Chairman Adam Smith said that Dr. Esper is “capable of executing the National Defense Strategy in a way that is insulated from outside influence and political considerations… The Department would benefit from his leadership.”
Ranking Member Mac Thornberry said he has “done an outstanding job as Secretary of the Army.”
And I agree with Congressman Thornberry. Under Dr. Esper’s leadership, we saw Army modernization move forward by leaps and bounds.
He managed the largest reorganization of the Army in 45 years, prioritizing research, development and innovation.
He showed accountability to the taxpayer by being responsible with his budget, making tough choices, streamlining legacy programs and directing defense dollars to critical future needs.
Impressive—but being a good Army Secretary isn’t enough on its own. Secretary Mattis reminded us that civilian leaders in our military must be more than their past accomplishments.
Mark Esper is more because he truly respects and honors his commitment to our men and women in uniform. I’ve seen it firsthand.
Back in April, he asked me to join him on a visit Fort Sill. What impressed me was how well he communicated with troops in the field. You could see the love he had for them.
He even joined them for an Army Combat Fitness Test workout and ate MREs out in the field. Anyone who has been in the Army can tell you that you don’t often find people who choose to do that.
Dr. Esper cares deeply about our troops—whether it’s making sure they have the weapons, equipment and training they need to succeed in their missions, or simply that they have quality housing when they are on base.
Now, we moved quickly to consider Dr. Esper’s nomination in the committee and here on the floor.
But that isn’t because we didn’t fulfill our duty of advice and consent. We did. Dr. Esper testified for over three hours and, between his hearing and his follow-up questions for the record, answered approximately 600 questions.
It’s clear that Dr. Esper has what it takes to lead the Department of Defense, and that most of my colleagues think so as well. He has served the nation with honor and integrity, and I am certain he will continue to do so if confirmed.
I urge a strong vote to confirm him today.