Christine Wormuth was confirmed unanimously by the Senate Thursday becoming the first female secretary of the Army.
The confirmation came after a ‘procedural hiccup’ that saw her confirmed and then unconfirmed only to be reconfirmed in under 24 hours.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, had a hold on Wormuth’s nomination over a pay issue for a soldier and hadn’t lifted it the first time she was confirmed.
Christine Wormuth made history as the first woman ever to be confirmed by the US Senate as Secretary of the Army – only to have the upper chamber reverse itself and then reverse itself again, confirming her Thursday
Defense News reported that Sen. Kevin Cramer (pictured) had a hold on Wormuth’s nomination during the first vote, which prompted the re-do
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, asked the Senate to rescind Wormuth’s nomination hours after it was approved by unanimous consent.
‘As in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate vitiate the previous action on Executive Calendar 135,’ Schumer said on the Senate floor.
The Senate adjourned for the night after Schumer received unanimous consent to ‘vitiate’ – or rescind – Wormuth’s confirmation.
By Thursday, Cramer had lifted the hold after Wormuth assured the Republican that the missing $50,000 to the unnamed Army major would get fixed, Defense News reported.
Politico quoted a Senate Armed Services Committee aide attributing it to a ‘mix-up on the floor.’
In a strange twist, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democrat from New York, asked the Senate to rescind Wormuth’s nomination hours after it was approved by unanimous consent
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Wormuth tweeted that she was ‘so honored to be confirmed as Secretary of the Army!’
‘Serving in this role is a tremendous privilege and responsibility!’
That tweet has since been deleted. Schumer also deleted a tweet congratulating Wormuth.
DailyMail.com sought comment from Wormuth.
Wormuth sailed through her nomination hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.
She will be one of the more powerful officials in a defense establishment long dominated by men, and she would be the second woman named to a top Pentagon role by Biden.
According to Roll Call correspondent Andrew Clevenger, the move ‘looks more like a procedural hiccup than a threat to her historic confirmation.’
The deputy secretary of defense is Kathleen Hicks.
Wormuth’s most recent job was as director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp., a federally funded think tank.
But prior to that she served as the undersecretary of defense for policy and the senior director for defense policy at the NSC during the Obama administration and held other Defense Department positions.
She also previously served as principal deputy assistant secretary for homeland defense.
Wormuth addressed a wide array of issues at the May 13 hearing, but many of the questions focused on personnel and command climate problems that have plagued the service.
The Army’s handling of sexual assaults and other violence has come under significant scrutiny in the aftermath of a series of crimes, including murders and suicides last year at Fort Hood, Texas.
Last month, the Army said it took disciplinary action against 21 officers and non-commissioned officers at Fort Hood in connection with the death last year of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who was missing for about two months before her remains were found.
The punishments, which include firing eight senior commanders, were the latest Army moves in response to Guillén’s disappearance and death.
A review panel found that military leaders at the post were not adequately dealing with high rates of sexual assault and harassment and were utterly neglecting the sexual assault prevention program.
Wormuth said she was ‘angry and frustrated’ by the failures at Fort Hood.
And she said the Army needs to ‘put quite a bit of focus’ on improving the command climate all the way down to the lower levels so that younger soldiers feel safe and able to make complaints if needed.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Wormuth tweeted that she was ‘so honored to be confirmed as Secretary of the Army!’ ‘Serving in this role is a tremendous privilege and responsibility!’ That tweet has since been deleted. Schumer also deleted a tweet congratulating Wormuth. DailyMail.com has also sought comment from Wormuth
She added that she would want to see what other training could be done, and not just ‘more Power Point slides that people go to mental screen saver on.’
One of those could be better bystander training for soldiers so they know how and when to step in when they see something happening.
Wormouth also said that assessment teams set up by the Army leadership already may be a way to help get at the problem.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s first directive after he took office in January ordered senior leaders to look into their sexual assault prevention programs, and he created an independent panel to study the matter.
That panel has recommended that decisions to prosecute service members for sexual assault be made by independent authorities, not commanders, a major change that has been resisted by the military.
In other comments, she said she is aware of the increased demands on the Army National Guard over the past year, as the citizen soldiers responded to civil unrest, COVID-19 testing and vaccination needs, natural disasters and other deployments.