The Senate on Tuesday narrowly confirmed Colin Kahl as President Joe Biden’s nominee for Pentagon policy chief, considered the department’s third most important civilian role, over sharp criticism from Republicans about his past tweets.
The Senate voted 64-35 to confirm Kahl one week after Vice President Kamala Harris Harris broke a 50-50 tie on a procedural vote to advance his nomination, the first time she was needed to cast a tie-breaking vote on a nominee. Republican absences from the Senate during the final vote allowed Kahl to be confirmed along party lines.
Thank you to @POTUS, @VP, and @SecDef for your faith and confidence in me.
Thank you to the Senate for today’s confirmation vote.
And thank you to my family and friends for all your support, love, good humor, and patience.
Time to get to work! (cc @DOD_COS, @DepSecDef)
— Colin Kahl (@ColinKahl) April 27, 2021
Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed strong opposition to Kahl’s nomination to be undersecretary of defense for policy, arguing that his past tweets attacking Republicans and former President Donald Trump were disqualifying.
Kahl tweeted in May 2019 that Senate Republicans who upheld Trump’s veto of a resolution ending military intervention in Yemen shared ownership “of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
He also tweeted in October 2019 that the “Republican party has debased itself at the altar of Trump” and is the party of “ethnic cleansing” after Trump announced a partial withdrawal from Syria.
“This is not about mean tweets or insulting senators, we are all used to harsh criticism up here,” Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said during Kahl’s confirmation hearing in early March. “This is just a small, a very small sample of the many intemperate and unbalanced remarks that you’ve directed at people who disagree with you about public policy.”
Kahl apologized to senators for using “sometimes disrespectful” language in his past tweets, adding that he was “swept up” in the “pretty polarizing” social media environment during Trump’s presidency. He also pledged to take a nonpartisan approach if confirmed as Pentagon policy chief. (RELATED: Biden Pick For Top Pentagon Post Pushed Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theory, Touted Steele Dossier)
His confirmation hearing came two days after Biden withdrew Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, following criticism of her own past tweets attacking senators.
Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhome, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also questioned Kahl about his previous support for the Iran nuclear deal and whether he supported lifting sanctions on the country that were issued under Trump.