U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will undergo surgery tomorrow to repair recent muscle damage in his left arm, leaving Deputy Secretary Gordon England to assume Gates' authority on an acting basis during the procedure.
England, former President Bush's long-serving No. 2 Pentagon official, has been staying in his position until President Barack Obama's nomination for deputy defense secretary, William J. Lynn III, was confirmed and appointed to the office. But Lynn's nomination has run into a little bit of trouble due to his ties to industry.
As Aviation Week's John Doyle is reporting, Obama's own push to slow down the so-called revolving door of goverment-industry personnel turnover has caught up the president's own nominee. This morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee's chairman said he wanted more information before moving forward on Lynn's confirmation.
"Given the President’s new stricter rules requiring his appointees to recuse themselves from matters or issues on which they have lobbied, the Senate Armed Services Committee will need further information before proceeding with the nomination," said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). "The committee will await the administration's assessment as to whether the new rules will preclude Mr. Lynn, who was a registered lobbyist for a defense contractor, from participating in key Department of Defense decisions, and if so, whether a waiver will be forthcoming and what the scope of the waiver will be."
For his part, Gates called for quick confirmation. In a Pentagon press conference going on now, Gates said he asked an exception be made for Lynn in regards to Obama's lobbyist guidance because Lynn is well qualified. But Gates said the Pentagon "certainly owes" the SASC whatever information it would like.