President Donald Trump has sent his congratulations to the U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper after the Senate confirmed him as new chief of the Pentagon despite disapproval from some Democratic presidential candidates.
“Congratulations to our new Secretary of Defense, Mark @EsperDoD!,” the president tweeted late Tuesday, July 23.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 23, 2019
The Senate backed Esper in an overwhelmingly bipartisan 90-8 vote on Tuesday, July 23, making him the second confirmed leader of the Pentagon under President Trump and ending a seven-month period the Department of Defense has been operating without a permanent secretary.
According to ABC News, the eight senators that voted against Esper’s confirmation are Democrats, including five presidential candidates: Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Kristen Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren.
Hours after the Senate confirmation vote, Esper was sworn in as the new secretary of defense by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Tuesday evening in the Oval Office.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Trump said, “There is no one more qualified to lead the Department of Defense than Mark Esper. A West Point graduate—great student, actually—Secretary Esper served our military for 21 years, including in the Gulf War.”
“He also advanced U.S. national security in the government and in the private sector, most recently as secretary of the Army, where he played a critical role training and equipping our armed forces. That’s where I got to know Mark. And there was nobody that did a better job than Mark and there’s nobody that loves it more than Mark,” the president said.
President Trump added that Esper is a recipient of the Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman Badge, holding a doctorate in public policy from George Washington University and a master of public administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
President Trump picked Mark Esper, 55, in mid-July to replace acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who decided to withdraw his name from consideration in June.
Speaking at the Oath of Office ceremony, Esper thanked the Senate Armed Services Committee for quick action on his nomination and for the strong bipartisan support from the Senate.
“It is an honor of a lifetime to be appointed Secretary of Defense and to lead the greatest military in history. And I will do so with that same energy and commitment to duty, honor, and country that I have for nearly four decades since my early days at West Point,” Esper said, adding that the U.S. military has made tremendous gains in recent years thanks to President Trump’s leadership.