Senate committee confirms first openly gay Army secretary

By Amy R. Connolly  |  March 11, 2016 at 6:10 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- The Senate Armed Forces Committee voted to approve the nomination of Eric Fanning to become the first openly gay leader of a U.S. military service.

Fanning's nomination to become the new Army secretary will advance to the full Senate, but will likely face opposition. President Barack Obama nominated him for the post in September, but he has met numerous roadblocks along the way.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., placed a hold on Fanning's nomination in November in protest of Obama's efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility.

"The senator's hold on Eric Fanning is not personal," Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little said. "The senator has asked the administration to provide a guarantee that detainees will not wind up in Kansas, as he was able to do when this issue first arose in 2009. This request has been articulated to John McHugh, before he left office as secretary of the Army, to those working closely on the 'plan,' and to [Defense] Secretary [Ashton] Carter on several occasions. He remains committed to stopping the president from moving a single detainee to the U.S. and will continue to use all legislative tools at his disposal to do so."

Earlier this week, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said Fanning's nomination was delayed because the full committee was not satisfied with the email redactions as part of an investigation into Carter's use of a personal email account.

"They were totally redacted, and we wanted to see all of them," McCain said. "I think there's only one or two with redacted portions."

Fanning has held several civilian jobs at the Pentagon, including working as the undersecretary and deputy chief management officer for the Department of the Navy, deputy director of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, under secretary of the Air Force, acting U.S. Secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff for Carter.

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