The Senate Armed Services Committee will take up Ash Carter’s nomination for defense secretary in January, after Republicans take control of the panel.
Incoming SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters late Monday evening that panel members will want to have Carter’s confirmation hearing “as early as possible.”
“We’ll grill him and we’ll put his feet in the fire on a lot of issues,” McCain said. “But you need to have a secretary of defense who isn’t lame duck.”
Asked if he intends to finish the confirmation process next month, McCain replied: “Yeah, January. Absolutely.”
President Barack Obama announced Carter’s nomination on Friday morning. The Senate will adjourn for the final time later this week as the 113th Congress completes its work.
Lawmakers return in early January when Republicans will have a larger House majority and control of the Senate.
But so far, GOP senators are predicting a smooth ride for the former deputy defense secretary’s nomination.
“I think his confirmation will sail through,” SASC member Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., the new National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, told CongressWatch last week. “What we [the GOP caucus] have discussed as a group is that of all the choices, Carter was the best and the most likely to sail through on a bipartisan basis.”