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Smith Statement on Anthony Tata’s Senate Confirmation Failure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement after reports that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper intends to announce that Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata (Ret.) will perform duties as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy despite his failure to receive Senate confirmation.

“Our system of checks and balances exists for a reason and the Senate’s role in the confirmation process for administration appointees ensures individuals at the highest levels of government are highly qualified. If an appointee 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. This evasion of scrutiny makes our government less accountable and prioritizes loyalty over competence.

“The vacancies at the Department of Defense, which have now hit record highs under the Trump administration, should be filled through the existing nomination and confirmation process. If confirmations cannot be completed, the President must find new, qualified people who can win the support of the Senate. The record-breaking number of vacancies are currently limiting the ability of the Department to fulfill its myriad duties and missions, which poses a threat to our national security.”

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