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March 24, 2021

Inhofe Joins All SASC Republicans to Reject Kahl as Under Secretary of Defense For Policy

After the Senate Armed Services Committee today voted 13-13 on the question of whether to recommend the confirmation of Colin Kahl to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, the 13 Republican members of the committee released the following statements on their unanimous opposition to the nomination: 

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), lead Republican of the Senate Armed Services Committee: “The Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are united in their opposition to the nomination of Dr. Colin Kahl to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy – the number-three civilian position across the entire Pentagon. We’ve each had a chance to hear from him – whether one on one, at his nomination hearing or both – and we all agree that he has neither the disposition nor judgment to serve in this critical position at this critical time. This is not a position we take lightly, but we urge our colleagues to reject this nomination when it comes to the floor.”

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.): “As one of our military’s highest-ranking civilian officials, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy should be a level-headed leader with a proven ability to develop winning solutions to our nation’s defense challenges. Dr. Kahl falls short of this standard. His words and actions show he is incapable of providing the leadership the American people deserve.”

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces: “The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy is a role that requires impartiality and the ability to deliver strategic, nonpolitical military advice. I have serious concerns about Dr. Kahl's history of inflammatory, partisan rhetoric. I question his policy judgment, which has also included several instances where he has made misjudgments about the severity and nature of the threats our country faces.”

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Airland: “Dr. Kahl’s judgement about matters of war and peace is almost always wrong and should be disqualifying, and his history of rash decisions makes him a downright dangerous nominee. This position requires a judicious, even-tempered demeanor. No one with Dr. Kahl’s temper should be responsible for making life and death decisions.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity: “In this particular case, we will offer our advice, but not our consent. We would ask the president to reconsider his choice for this nomination.”

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), combat veteran and lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities: “Colin Kahl’s expressed positions and incendiary remarks over recent years are extremely concerning, especially when it comes to our strategy against Iran. As our nation continues to confront the serious threat our adversaries—including Iran—pose to our nation and the entire world, our men and women in uniform, Iowans, and all Americans deserve someone who will commit to having a serious outlook on policy. Kahl’s troubling comments are a direct reflection of his core beliefs and internal working philosophy, and I do not believe he is fit to serve as our nation’s next Undersecretary of Defense for Policy who is responsible for advising and guiding critical decisions that have consequences for U.S. national security.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Personnel: “Mainstream nominees for the Department of Defense have a long history of putting national security before partisanship. Colin Kahn is not a mainstream nominee. He has a troubling history of divisive and disqualifying rhetoric and policy positions, including shunning our great ally Israel and making excuses for the totalitarian Iranian regime. I will not support his confirmation.”

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support: “Throughout his confirmation process, I have expressed serious concerns about Colin Kahl’s temperament, offensive and inflammatory public attacks, policy track record, history of making hyper-partisan predictions about our country’s interactions with other nations that have frequently turned out to be wrong, and lack of any sense of red lines with our adversaries, like the terrorist regime in Iran. In his confirmation hearing, Kahl said that ‘the position of the undersecretary of defense for policy, while it’s a political appointment, is not a political job. It’s a policy job, one that requires [him] to be nonpartisan.’ Because Kahl has not lived up to his own assessment of what is required to serve in the Pentagon’s third most important defense role, I cannot support his nomination."

U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Seapower: “Dr. Kahl has made several incorrect and polarizing statements on foreign policy that could limit his ability to effectively serve as the Defense Department’s policy chief and build the coalition he needs to be successful. The Pentagon enjoys broad bipartisan support, and its leadership should reflect that.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.): “Our nation needs leaders at the Department of Defense who are not driven by a partisan agenda, and are committed to making sure our troops have all the resources and support they need to succeed. We need leaders who understand that our adversaries are regimes like those in Communist China and Iran, and that our friends are countries like Israel and its partners in the Middle East. That’s not Colin Kahl. I have grave concerns about Dr. Kahl’s lack of support for one of our great allies, Israel, weakness toward Communist China and desire to rejoin the disastrous Iran deal.”

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.): “Colin Kahl is the wrong choice to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He has been consistently wrong about almost every foreign policy issue in recent memory. He was wrong about Russia, wrong about Iran, and wrong about Israel. He also has zero meaningful experience dealing with Communist China.”

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.): “For years, Colin Kahl has undercut efforts to strengthen America’s relationship with Israel, backed endless wars in the Middle East, and ignored the threats posed by an imperial China. At the same time, he has argued for weakening our nuclear deterrent and let our allies off the hook while they shirked on defense spending. Our servicemembers and our nation deserve better. That is why I voted against his nomination to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.”

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.): “The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy is one of the most important positions in the Pentagon. The job requires sound judgment and an ability to work with Congress. Unfortunately, Dr. Kahl’s history of heated partisan statements shows he doesn’t have the temperament required for this position. Our national security is too important to be subjected to partisanship, so I opposed Dr. Kahl’s nomination.”


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