- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sparks flew between Sen. John McCain and two nominees tapped by President Obama to fill prominent Defense Department positions on Tuesday.

As a result, the Arizona Republican said he is placing a hold on the nominations of Bob Work to be Deputy Defense Secretary and Christine Wormuth to be Under Secretary for Policy at the Pentagon.

Mr. McCain’s frustration with the two mounted during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday morning when they failed to provide adequate responses to questions he was asking.

At one point, Mr. McCain focused his attention Mr. Work’s lack of familiarity with a critical 2013 government report that outlined cost issues associated with the Littoral Combat Ship.

Recent years have seen the ship experience a series of cost overruns, and Mr. McCain expressed shock when Mr. Work indicated that he had not seen the report.

The Senator then questioned Mr. Work’s qualifications to be Deputy Defense Secretary. “You haven’t read it? I’m stunned that you haven’t,” Mr. McCain scoffed.

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Mr. McCain’s frustration toward Ms. Wormuth stemmed from a separate exchange in which the senator accused her of ducking his request for additional information on al Qaeda.

Mr. Work and Ms. Wormuth were among six nominees who appeared for initial questioning before the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday morning.

The nominee list also included Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Policy nominee Brian McKeon, Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs nominee David Shear, Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense nominee Eric Rosenbach and Under Secretary Comptroller nominee Michael McCord.

Other exchanges during the hearing were smooth, with senators from both sides of the aisle fastening the majority of their questions around hot-topic issues, such as the rising cost of the Navy’s ship-building efforts and the Pentagon’s plan to implement a base realignment and closure round in 2017.

A large portion of the hearing centered around the Defense Department’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget plan, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled yesterday.

It was not immediately clear on Tuesday afternoon when the committee plans to reconvene on the nominees.

Once a committee has held a hearing on nominees, senators have the option of placing a hold on any of them — which ultimately means a nominee could not be approved by unanimous consent.

In order to get past the hold, the Obama administration will either have to name new nominees, or the Senate will need to invoke cloture.

Cloture takes just 50 votes under the new rules of the Senate.

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