Senate confirms Army veteran Mark Esper secretary of defense

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WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 16: Secretary of Defense nominee, Mark Esper, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on July 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. Esper has been Acting Secretary of Defense since Patrick Shanahan stepped down due to revelations about his past. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate has confirmed Army veteran and former defense industry lobbyist Mark Esper as secretary of defense.

Esper’s confirmation ends a stretch of seven months the Pentagon didn’t have a permanent leader.

Esper won Senate confirmation on Tuesday by a vote of 90-8 and is to be sworn in by day’s end.

The Pentagon had been without a permanent boss since Jim Mattis stepped down last New Year’s Eve. Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan became the acting secretary, but after six months as the fill-in the former Boeing executive abruptly quit.

Esper then became the acting secretary, but once he was nominated last week he had to step aside until a Senate vote.

For the past week the Pentagon has been run by yet another fill-in, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer.

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