James Nominationby Senator James M. Inhofe
Posted on 2013-12-16
INHOFE. Mr. President, the process for running these nominees
through the Senate is unnecessary and contrived simply to ignore a
number of Republican concerns.
I do not oppose all the nominees, however. I wish to strongly support the confirmation of Deborah James for Secretary of the U.S. Air Force. With three Air Force installations in Oklahoma--Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Altus Air Force Base, and Vance Air Force Base in Enid--the Air Force has long been a part of the fabric of the State of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is home to five major military installations between the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army. They employee thousands of Oklahomans and contract work throughout the State being responsible for a tremendous role in Oklahoma's economy. These installations enjoy the strong support of the communities in which they are located and the entire State of Oklahoma.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a nomination hearing on Ms. James back in September. In addition, I have met with Ms. James, and I have had an opportunity to discuss with her my concerns about this unprecedented period in which the readiness and capabilities of the Air Force are at significant risk because of budget cuts and sequestration.
For example, the Air Force was forced to ground one-third of its combat coded active squadrons for a time during fiscal year 2013 and according to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force it will now cost a minimum of 10 percent more flying hours to fully retrain the grounded squadrons than it would have to simply keep them trained all along. Further, General Welsh stated that sequestration in fiscal year 2014 could force flying hours to be cut by 15 percent and within 3 to 4 months, many units would be unable to fly at rates required to maintain mission readiness.
Ms. James has over 30 years of senior homeland and national security management, policy, and program experience in government and the private sector. She served with SAIC in McLean, VA from 2002 as the president of SAIC Technical and Engineering Sector, executive vice president for communications and government affairs, and senior vice president for Homeland Security. Prior to those positions, she served as vice president for [[Page S8840]] International Operations and Marketing at United Technologies from 1998 to 2000.
She served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs from 1993 to 1998, overseeing all matters pertaining to the National Guard and Reserve Forces. She has significant experience working with Congress, as a former professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee from 1983 to 1993. She has a bachelor's degree in comparative studies from Duke University and a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.
I believe she is very qualified and ready to start her new role. I look forward to working with Secretary James in her new role and strongly congratulate her.
However, I would like to point out that these nominations are not without controversy which may be why the Democratic majority would rather ignore the minority and change the Senate for the first time in over 200 years.
For example, Ms. Patricia Wald who the Administration nominated to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has written that those accused of terrorism should be given access to the civilian trial court system and be afforded the protections of simple criminal defendants. These views ignore the devastating effects of terrorism and ignore our actual war against terrorism around the world. These acts are not simply criminal acts, they threaten our entire country. This should be the subject of debate in the Senate, not simply brushed aside for quick confirmations.
Earlier the Senate voted on the nominations of two district court judges for Montana. These are lifetime appointments. The Senate confirmed these judges by a wide margin, but the Senate should not simply group a number of nominations together to pass for lifetime appointments for circuit and district judicial vacancies simply because the majority does not even want to work with the minority. This session will end with continued confirmation votes. It is to the detriment of both parties if the prerogatives, priorities, and concerns of the minority are not considered in the Senate, but it will not be easily overlooked.