Senate confirms Wilson as Air Force secretary

Former US House Representative for New Mexico Heather Wilson
Former US House Representative for New Mexico Heather Wilson

10 May, 2017

Senators voted 76-22 Monday to approve Wilson, who represented New Mexico in the House before becoming a defense industry consultant.

Heather Wilson was confirmed as the new Secretary of the Air Force by the Senate on Monday.

At her confirmation hearing in March, Wilson praised the stealth capability of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet, in remarks suggesting the Pentagon's most expensive weapons system would have an important advocate.

Even after the completion of Trump's 100 days in office, dozens of national security positions remain unfilled, with some still occupied by former President Barack Obama's holdovers or civil servants on an acting basis.

"We live in a remarkable country, protected by innovators and intrepid Airmen who take great risks on our behalf", she said in a statement. Her priorities for the Air Force include updating and restoring aircraft, modernizing the Air Force and the increased development of young leaders.

25 2017 shows a US F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Amari Air Base Estonia
25 2017 shows a US F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Amari Air Base Estonia

Tennessee state Rep. Mark Green (R), Trump's second nominee to be Army secretary, withdrew his nomination amid mounting criticism about his previous comments on LGBT people, Islam, Hispanics, the Second Amendment and creationism.

Trump's initial pick for Navy Secretary, wealthy businessman Philip Bilden, also withdrew his name from consideration in February over concerns about potential business conflicts.

Wilson - whose family has a history in aviation - becomes the first Air Force Academy graduate to head the military branch. She says she'll resign her current post as president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology if she's confirmed.

However, Wilson dismissed questions about these payments during her senate confirmation hearing and said she had completed the work and the inspector general had found no questionable dealings with her work. Wilson denied the findings, but the government was reportedly paid back about $443,000.

Heinrich, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Wilson's tenure as a representative from New Mexico gives her unique insight into the role and needs of the state's three Air Force bases. Trump has not nominated another individual to be Navy Secretary.

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