Republican Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas last week questioned President Donald Trump’s selection for Navy Secretary during a Senate hearing, and told the nominee he would have to fix the legacy of the position and “restore the credibility of the secretariat.”
Trump has tapped Richard Spencer for the top Navy civilian post, formerly held by then-President Barack Obama’s selection, Ray Mabus – whom Cotton said was one of the most unpopular secretaries in modern history, according to a Washington Examiner report.
“I think it is unfortunate that you’ve inherited this legacy and it’s going to make it somewhat hard when you start out to restore the credibility of the secretariat,” Cotton said during Spencer’s July 11 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Your predecessor [Ray Mabus] displayed what I think is questionable and strange judgment on some matters that left him as one of the most unpopular service secretaries of the modern era,” Cotton said, according to the report.
Mabus, a Democrat, fell under scrutiny for “naming Navy ships after historical figures such as labor leader Cesar Chavez and gay rights icon Harvey Milk,” according to the report.
Mabus served as Navy Secretary from 2009 to 2017 – one of the longest tenures of the post in the past 100 years, the report pointed out.
During the Senate hearing, Cotton listed several things Mabus did that he did not like:
“He politicized the naming of U.S. Navy ships; he made some very strange changes to the Navy uniform that caused a revolt among female sailors; he publicly dismissed officials’ reports about combat effectiveness of mixed gender units without even having read them by his own admission; he dumped the Navy’s rating titles, some of which […] have been around for 200 years; he tried to power Navy fleets with unproven expensive and inadequate fuel alternatives based on current technology at some cases at the cost of $28 per gallon; and he questioned the character and integrity of Marines who dared to disagree with some of these policies,” Cotton said, according to the report.
To this, Spencer responded that he would not use the U.S. Navy as a “petri dish.”
“I totally believe that policy should be developed at the [Defense Department] level and then discussed, socialized, and then deployed and then obeyed,” Spencer said, according to the report.