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Senate confirms Norquist for No. 2 Pentagon job

Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist speaks during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill March 26, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

The Senate late Tuesday night confirmed by voice vote David Norquist to be deputy secretary of defense as the chamber rushes to vote on numerous nominees before senators leave town for August recess.

Norquist’s easy confirmation underscores his popularity on Capitol Hill. As Pentagon comptroller, he shepherded the Defense Department through its first-ever audit, and received plaudits from members of both parties during his confirmation before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week.

While the Pentagon failed the 2018 audit — as was expected — Norquist earned praise for taking on the monumental task and laying the groundwork for future inspections into how hundreds of billions of dollars are spent each year by the Defense Department.

Norquist now moves into the No. 2 civilian position at the Pentagon, a job he has been performing in an acting capacity since January. Norquist’s confirmation is surely a relief for Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said last week during his first day on the job that filling Pentagon vacancies is one of his top priorities.

For at least the next month, though, Esper and Norquist will lead the largest government agency with several key civilian positions still unfilled, including Army and Air Force secretaries.

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The Senate last week confirmed Army Gen. Mark Milley to be Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, but the nominated vice chairman, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, will not be confirmed before the August recess. Hyten’s nomination has been clouded by sexual assault allegations, although he appears likely to be confirmed in the fall.

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© 2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.

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