Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is threatening to block President Trump’s Pentagon nominees over the Trump administration’s decision to lift former President Obama’s ban on issuing waivers for recruits with a history of self-harm, bipolar disorder, depression or drug and alcohol abuse.
McCain said his committee was not notified of the policy change prior to a USA Today report.
“It’s a problem that, frankly, that this committee is having with the administration,” McCain said during a hearing Tuesday. “We should’ve been told about this before it showed up in a USA Today article. The Army did not respond to a question of how many waivers, if any, have been issued since the policy was changed.”
If we do not get answers soon, McCain said, “we stop confirming people for jobs.”
“Self-mutilation is something that comes home to roost,” he said. “Someone who self-mutilates, I don’t understand the eligibility there. So I hope that we can get answers to the questions and I’m just not sure that if you take someone in who is doing these things, the cost over time is very, very, very high.”
This isn’t the first time that McCain has threatened to block President Trump’s Defense nominees.
The Hill added:
Earlier this year, McCain refused to hold hearings for Pentagon nominees as he sought to force the administration to answer his questions on strategies for Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. McCain also wanted more information about the attack in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.
Last month, after a meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis and a classified committee briefing on the Niger attack, McCain said he was pleased with the progress the Pentagon was making in keeping the committee informed and said he would lift some of the holds.
“If confirmed, I commit to communicating with this committee and the staff in way that perhaps you’ve never enjoyed before,” said Trump’s nominee to be the Army general counsel, James McPherson, who promised he’ll make the Army waiver issue “one of his earliest questions.”
Despite McCain’s threat, the Armed Services Committee approved four more nominees for final and full Senate approval Tuesday, including Robert McMahon to be assistant secretary of Defense for logistics and materiel readiness; R.D. James to be assistant secretary of the Army for civil works; Bruce Jette to be assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology; and Shon Manasco to be assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs.