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Senate May Begin to Fill Pentagon Posts


The U.S. Senate may soon begin to fill dozens of vacant positions at the Defense Department after lawmakers reached a tentative deal to avert a constitutional showdown over president nominations.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., threatened to change the time-honored rules for filibuster -- an act or speech designed to obstruct legislative action -- after charging that Republicans unfairly used the procedural maneuver to block President Barack Obama's nominations for numerous agency posts.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., helped broker a deal between Reid, the Senate majority leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader. The chamber on Tuesday then voted to clear the way for Richard Cordray to be confirmed as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

While the CFPB director is among the most visible of the vacant appointee posts, dozens of others exist at the Pentagon alone.

There were 61 such vacancies at the Defense Department last year, including the position of inspector general, according to a December 2012 report published by the U.S. House of Representatives panel known as the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The report, titled "United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions" and known as the "Plum Book," is published every four years after a presidential election to identify appointed positions within the government, according to the Government Printing Office's website.

Of the 61 vacancies at the Pentagon, 47 were at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, three at the Air Force, seven at the Army and four at the Navy, according to the document.

In addition to the inspector general's office -- which has been without a permanent leader for more than a year and a half -- the types of positions range from the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, to the undersecretary of the Air Force to the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

Lynne Halbrooks is the acting inspector general for the Defense Department and serves as the head of office under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

The Senate Armed Services Committee also Tuesday announced it plans to meet July 25 to consider Jon Rymer for Pentagon inspector general.

The panel will also consider the nominations of Stephen Preston for general counsel of the Defense Department, Susan Rabern for assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller, and Dennis McGinn for assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment.

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