Senate confirms Mark Esper as Trump’s secretary of defense

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Trump’s nominee for secretary of defense, Mark Esper, in a bipartisan 90-8 vote.

The confirmation ends a record-long seven months that the Pentagon went without a Senate-confirmed leader — amid escalating tensions with Venezuela and Iran.

The post had been vacant since former Secretary Jim Mattis resigned on New Year’s Eve. Esper was one of three people who served as acting defense secretary in the time since.

“The nominee is beyond qualified,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said prior to the vote. “His record of public service is beyond impressive. His commitment to serving our service members is beyond obvious. And the need for a Senate-confirmed secretary of defense is beyond urgent.”

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