A controversial retired Army general whose nomination hearing for the top policy job at the Pentagon was abruptly cancelled Thursday will instead “perform the duties” of Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy - but without a vote by the Senate.
The bureaucratic maneuver to name Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata to what is in effect the same position is an end run around the checks and balances of government, the Chairman of the House Armed Services committee said Sunday.
“The Senate’s role in the confirmation process for administration appointees ensures individuals at the highest levels of government are highly qualified,” said Rep. Adam Smith, Democrat from Washington. “If an appointment cannot gain the support of the Senate, as is clearly the case with Tata, then the President should not put that person into an identical temporary role.”
Rep. Smith called the decision to appoint Brig. Gen. Tata - a novelist and a regular commentator on the Fox News Channel - an “evasion of scrutiny” that makes government less accountable.
He said any vacancies in the Department of Defense should be filled through the existing process.
“If confirmations cannot be completed, the President must find new, qualified people who can win the support of the Senate,” Rep. Smith said.
The high number of vacancies at the Pentagon poses a threat to national security, he said.