The Senate confirmed Colin Kahl to be the No. 3 civilian at the Pentagon on Tuesday, approving President Joe Biden’s nominee for Pentagon policy chief on a party-line vote.
The 49-45 vote came one week after Vice President Kamala Harris broke a 50-50 tie on a procedural vote to advance Kahl’s nomination, in the first instance that she was needed to cast a tie-breaking vote on a nominee thanks to united Republican opposition.
Harris did not have to go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for the procedural vote to end debate and the final vote on Kahl’s confirmation because of Republican absences from the Senate.
Republicans voiced strong opposition to Kahl’s nomination to be under secretary of defense for policy, arguing that his past tweets attacking Republicans were disqualifying for the Pentagon job. At his confirmation hearing last month, Kahl apologized to Republican senators for using “sometimes disrespectful” language in tweets.
Republicans also claimed that Kahl had potentially disclosed classified information in his tweets, and a group of Republicans led by Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee sent a letter to the FBI calling for an investigation.
Senate Republicans’ united opposition to Neera Tanden largely because of her past tweets helped sink her nomination to be Biden’s budget chief earlier this year after moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia also announced his opposition. But Manchin backed Kahl’s nomination in the Senate Armed Services Committee and on the floor, allowing Kahl to be confirmed with solely Democratic votes.
Manchin told CNN after the Armed Services Committee deadlocked 13-13 last month that he supported Kahl because his tweets weren’t as “pointed” at specific individuals and senators and were focused more on policy.