Moving with lightning speed, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 20 to 0 today to approve Defense Secretary-designate Dick Cheney, sending his nomination on to an expected easy Senate confirmation on Friday.
The vote, accompanied by praise for Cheney’s “high standards of personal conduct and integrity,” came exactly one week after the Senate rejected the nomination of former Texas Sen. John Tower and handed President Bush a major defeat in his first high-stakes clash with Congress.
Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Me.) said the full Senate will take up the nomination on Friday, before the Senate begins a two-week recess.
The committee took only about 10 minutes to discuss Cheney and vote.
The panel’s report said Cheney’s “high standards of personal conduct and integrity would help to restore public confidence in the integrity of defense management.”
“Congressman Cheney is highly qualified to be secretary of defense,” committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), who led the fight against Tower, said before the vote.
Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), the ranking Republican on the committee, said the swift action on the nomination resulted from the speed with which Bush relayed the FBI background report, and because Cheney, as a member of the House, had filed financial reports for past years.
The Wyoming congressman was House minority whip, the second-ranking Republican leadership post in the chamber.
“There have been many who have questioned our motives from time to time,” said Sen. J. James Exon (D-Neb.), referring to the bitter fight over Tower. “We should salute the President for his nomination of Dick Cheney.”
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), asked if the unanimous committee vote showed that the Senate had not been torn by the vote on Tower, said, “That was just one of the storms that come along, and they all sweep out to sea.”
“We found nothing in the financial report, nothing in the FBI report, nothing in our questioning of him that would in any way interfere with his ability to be secretary of defense, and I believe a successful secretary of defense,” Nunn said.