Sen. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, was the only senator to vote against Admiral Lisa Franchetti, who last week became the first woman to serve in a permanent role on the Joint Chiefs of Staff when she was confirmed as chief of Naval Operations.
His reason? He thinks she epitomizes President Joe Biden’s emphasis on diversity and inclusion.
“President Biden nominated Adm. Franchetti not because she is qualified or competent to do the job but because of this administration’s obsession with diversity and inclusion,” Marshall said in a written statement. “He even disregarded the recommendation of his own Secretary of Defense for this position. Confirming Admiral Franchetti will not make our country safer.”
Franchetti has served in the Navy for more than 38 years and was among the first wave of women who were able to serve on board a Navy combatant ship after Congress repealed a law in 1993 that barred them from doing so. She previously led the U.S. Naval Forces in Korea and served as the second in command in the Navy — which cleared the Senate in 2022 without objection — before taking the top role.
“She is a highly decorated naval officer with extensive operational experience,” said Sean Savet, the deputy spokesman at the National Security Council. “We appreciate the 95 Senators who agreed that having her serve as Chief of Naval Operations will help ensure that the U.S. military, in particular the U.S. Navy, remains the most powerful and capable forces in the world at this critical moment.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin did favor a different nominee for the post — Admiral Samuel Paparo, who leads the Pacific Fleet at a time when the U.S. Navy is focusing on China’s military power — but, according to Politico, Austin also presented Franchetti as a choice for the post and was satisfied with her nomination after a discussion with Biden, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
Marshall, who was a captain in the Army Reserve, is among a group of conservatives in Congress who are critical of the Department of Defense’s efforts to increase diversity among its ranks, an issue that has injected the political culture wars into typically bipartisan legislation, like the National Defense Authorization Act.
He also opposed the confirmation of Gen. Charles Q. Brown, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, along with another 10 Republicans. Marshall was the sole vote against confirming Gen. David Allvin as the Air Force Chief of Staff because he said he was picked by Brown. Marshall said Brown, the first black Air Force chief of staff, was “fundamental in making the military more woke and less lethal” and that Allvin would continue in that vein.
“We must get back to confirming nominees focused on our national security, not candidates who have put their political agenda over our military readiness,” Marshall said.
Marshall’s opposition to the nominees comes at a time of intense frustration between the Department of Defense and Congress. For months, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, an Alabama Republican, has blocked more than 400 military nominees from Senate confirmation in protest to the Defense Department’s policies on abortion.
His blockade has reached a boiling point in the Senate last week, when Republican senators held the floor for hours late into the night pushing Tuberville to lift his hold on the nominees. Tuberville has refused to budge and reiterated this week that the only way he’ll lift his hold is if the Defense Department changes its policy allowing active duty military members to travel out-of-state to get abortion services if they are based in a state without access to the procedure.
The government does not pay for the abortion, but military members can be reimbursed for the travel expenses.
In a speech honoring the 75th anniversary of the desegregation of the military this summer, Biden said the diversity of the military is its strength.
“As our military became more diverse, it became stronger, tougher, and more capable — proving our diversity is a strength, not a weakness — a necessary part of our warfighting and our deterrence and our successful military operations,” Biden said.
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