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Senate confirms Trump Pentagon pick; moves defense bill to negotiations

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Senate confirms Trump Pentagon pick; moves defense bill to negotiations

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed a long-delayed White House Pentagon pick and moved to reconcile its version of the annual defense policy bill with legislation passed by the House.

Senators voted 70-17 to approve David Trachtenberg’s nomination to be principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy.

Trachtenberg, who was previously the president and CEO of Shortwaver, a national security consultancy, also has experience in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. He has served as a principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for international security policy and as a staff member with the House Armed Services Committee.

The confirmation comes seven months after President Trump nominated Trachtenberg, who is among only 18 Pentagon picks to make it through the confirmation process. The White House has 24 other Defense Department nominations awaiting Senate confirmation, while 15 positions do not have a nominee.

The White House last week announced it would name Lockheed Martin executive John Rood as the undersecretary of defense for policy, the Pentagon’s No. 3 position, which reportedly has been a point of conflict between the White House and Defense Secretary James Mattis .

The Senate also officially moved Tuesday to reconcile its version of the annual defense policy bill with the House’s, approving a motion to go to conference.

The Senate named the entire Armed Services Committee — 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats – as conferees to work out the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the upper chamber passed in September.

The House last week agreed by unanimous consent to go to conference. It passed its version of the NDAA in July.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) has told reporters that negotiators hope to resolve all major differences by the end of October, except for a topline dollar amount.

The House NDAA would authorize $621.5 billion in the base defense budget and $75 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

The Senate version, meanwhile, would authorize $640 billion for the base defense budget and $60 billion for OCO.

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