Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain is signaling that final confirmation of Ash Carter as defense secretary could come later than expected. And he is making clear he wants to review the Navy’s plans for its shallow-water combatant.
“I would want to do that [budget] hearing while Hagel is still defense secretary,” the Arizona Republican told reporters Wednesday. “It really is the budget that he’s putting together, not Carter.”
When President Barack Obama last month announced Carter as his nominee, lawmakers and aides speculated he could be on the job by the end of January. But the newly seated chairman wants outgoing Defense Se
cretary Chuck Hagel to appear before the panel next month to explain the Pentagon’s 2016 budget request.
Carter’s confirmation hearing already has been pushed back from initial hopes of a January grilling by SASC members.
McCain told reporters Tuesday that Carter says he will not be physically ready for the hearing until the first week in February because he is recovering from back surgery. The budget request is due on Capitol Hill that same week.
Hagel likely would appear before all four congressional defense committees to testify about the spending plan. Based on previous years, that typically takes another two weeks.