April 27, 2021
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), lead Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), spoke on the Senate floor today to urge his colleagues to reject the nomination of Colin Kahl to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, highlighting the long tradition of bipartisan support Department of Defense nominees typically receive.
In March, Kahl’s nomination failed to advance the Armed Services Committee after all 13 SASC Republicans voted in opposition; last week, Vice President Harris cast a tie-breaking vote to discharge his nomination from the committee after all 50 Senate Republicans voted against the motion.
As Prepared for Delivery:
I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues — strongly — to vote against the nomination of Colin Kahl to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
Last week, Colin Kahl became President Biden’s first nominee not to garner one single Republican vote on the Senate floor. The Vice President had to cast the tie-breaking vote.
Every single other nominee — even some of the most partisan progressives — earned at least one vote from a Republican.
And what makes this nomination even more out of the ordinary is that this truly never happens with DOD nominees.
If you look back over the last decade, recorded votes on DOD nominees are rare, and only a few times did a nominee receive support from fewer than two-thirds of the Senate. It just doesn’t happen, but it happened this time.
Some of his tweets have raised concerns from a number of our colleagues that Dr. Kahl might have shared sensitive or classified information on his Twitter. The junior Senator from Tennessee highlighted this on the floor last week.
Furthermore, Dr. Kahl’s tweets also show a history of volatile behavior. It goes further than just being highly partisan and unbalanced. He is also a conspiracy theorist.
In May 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had seized a major nuclear archive from Iran.
That archive has since revealed many previously unknown nuclear sites, and the International Atomic Energy Agency is working to gain access to inspect these sites today, thanks to Israel’s discovery.
What did Dr. Kahl say about Israel’s discovery at that time? He was skeptical, and added: “This sure has an eerie pre-2003 Iraq vibe to it.”
In other words, rather than being alarmed about the fact that Iran had many undeclared nuclear sites, Dr. Kahl alleged that Israel was trying to goad America into war.
Somehow, for Dr. Kahl, the problem is never Iran, or the weak 2015 Iran deal that didn’t cover the nuclear sites that Israel revealed. He wants to give Iran massive sanctions relief to return to that deal.
No, for Dr. Kahl, the problem is Israel — especially when our Israeli friends reveal information about Iran’s nefarious behavior.
Again, this is not about a policy disagreement. This is about whether Dr. Kahl is someone who can accept facts, even when those facts undercut his policy preferences.
National security is a bipartisan priority. It always has been, and it always will be.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, traditionally, nominees for key DOD roles receive bipartisan support in the Senate.
In fact, I can’t recall a single nominee for a top DOD position in the last 40 years who didn’t garner at least one vote from the other party.
I hope President Biden keeps this in mind as he staffs the rest of his administration.
We need nominees who will work with members of both sides of the aisle, and those members have to trust that person in return.
Moving forward, I encourage President Biden to listen to his own calls for bipartisanship and unity and send us nominees who can be approved without controversy.