Senate confirms Trump's pick for Air Force secretary

Camille Francis
May 10, 2017

The U.S. Senate on Monday approved the nomination of former congresswoman Heather Wilson to become the secretary of the Air Force in a bipartisan 76-22 vote.

Wilson received relatively little pushback; the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 5 advanced her confirmation.

Wilson is a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico. It has been DOD's "executive agent" for space for many years, but an attempt was made during the Obama Administration to better coordinate space activities throughout DOD by creating the position of Principal DOD Space Advisor (PDSA). "I look forward to getting to work, focusing on readiness, modernization, development of leaders and research for the future".

Tennessee state Rep. Mark Green (R), Trump's second nominee to be Army secretary, withdrew his nomination amid mounting criticism about his previous comments on LGBT people, Islam, Hispanics, the Second Amendment and creationism.

Vincent Viola, Trump's initial pick for Army Secretary, previously withdrew over issues related to divesting from his financial holdings, and Philip Bilden, Trump's pick for the post, also withdrew because he was not able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics' requirements for divestment without "undue disruption" of his assets.

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But EPA career staffers misspoke, and the Trump administration had no intention of keeping the Obama holdovers. The move followed a wave of EPA actions that have alarmed climate scientists and others.

She collected almost half a million dollars in questionable payments from federally funded nuclear labs, the Energy Department's inspector general said in a 2013 report. Wilson denied any impropriety.

Wilson said that if confirmed she would resign her current position as president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. She had faced scrutiny from several Democrats for defense industry consulting work she did after leaving Congress in 2009.

Wilson grew up in Keene, N.H., and was in the third class to include women at the U.S. Air Force Academy, graduating in 1982.

In 2013, the Department of Energy Inspector General found that Sandia Corp. paid Wilson's consulting company about $500,000 from 2009 to 2011 with no evidence of work.

This also makes Wilson the president's first service secretary nominee to be approved by the GOP-led chamber. Trump has not nominated another individual to be Navy Secretary.

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