Senate Revokes Confirmation of First Female Army Secretary over Apparent Procedural Issue

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Christine Wormuth testifies during her Senate Armed Service Committee confirmation hearing
Christine Wormuth, nominee to be secretary of the Army, testifies during her Senate Armed Service Committee confirmation hearing, Thursday, May 13, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Tom Williams/Pool via AP)

In a bizarre turn of events, the Senate revoked Christine Wormuth's confirmation as Army secretary Wednesday after she seemed to be confirmed by unanimous consent.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the rollback on the Senate's decision about two hours after the chamber approved her to take on the role in the Army's top civilian post. Wormuth would be the first woman to take the job.

"As in executive session, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate vitiate the previous action on Executive Calendar 135," Schumer said referring to Wormuth.

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Schumer did not elaborate on what happened and his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Military.com. Wormuth has not been seen as a controversial pick for Army secretary and breezed through her confirmation hearing without much pushback from Republicans. The rapid reversal could be the result of a procedural problem, though the specifics of the issue haven't been made clear.

About an hour before Schumer's reversal, Wormuth tweeted that she was "honored" to be confirmed by the Senate.

"I am so honored to be confirmed as Secretary of the Army," she tweeted at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. "Serving in this role is a tremendous privilege and responsibility."

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston also congratulated Wormuth on Twitter, saying he was "Proud to be part of YOUR squad, Ma'am." He later took down the tweet when the confirmation was reversed.

Wormuth would come to the job at a critical time for the Army. The force faces potential budget cuts amid military-wide resource constraints. She told lawmakers at her confirmation hearing earlier this month she didn't "think anyone would be well-served by looking at the Army as just a bill-payer."

She would also take the helm as the Army reinvents how it evaluates physical fitness for soldiers. Leaders have struggled to develop the new Army Combat Fitness Test to create a stronger force without damaging recruiting and retention for jobs that aren't physically demanding. Wormuth said the new test is concerning for how it seemingly puts women at a significant disadvantage.

She also told lawmakers it's time to reevaluate the high demands placed on the National Guard, after a year in which the part-time force has juggled multiple domestic missions and overseas operations. Her concerns echo those of top Army brass, who are concerned the Guard has been stretched too thin.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Army Secretary Nominee Worries the ACFT Will Push Too Many Women Out

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