WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate confirmed Christine Wormuth, an international security expert and Defense Department aide during the Obama administration, as secretary of the Army on Thursday. She is the first woman to serve in the role.
The confirmation was not a straightforward process. After the Senate gave its unanimous consent Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked the Senate to overturn Wormuth’s nomination, according to reporting from The Hill.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said the unusual course of events was related to a hold he had previously placed on Wormuth.
“I had to hold on her. I think you probably all suspected that,” Cramer said. “They accidentally confirmed her by voice vote and then they unconfirmed her by voice vote because I hadn’t lifted my hold, but I did today, so that so that’s what happened last night.”
On Thursday, Schumer tweeted “The Senate just confirmed Christine Wormuth to be the first female to Secretary of the Army!” A prior tweet about Wormuth’s confirmation was deleted from his account, according to The Hill.
USA TODAY reached out to Schumer’s office for comment.
“Serving in this role is a tremendous privilege and responsibility!” she wrote. President Joe Biden nominated her for the position last month.
Wormuth worked in the Defense Department during the Obama administration and most recently directed the International Security and Defense Policy Center at RAND Corporation. She was one of six mostly-female members of Biden’s Pentagon transition team.
As Army secretary, Wormuth will lead a major branch of an agency under scrutiny from charges of systemic racism and sexual harassment. This month, a female Army soldier died by suicide after she was raped by a colleague.
USA TODAY recently reported on findings that Maryland Army National Guard officials used racist overtones by forcing a Black soldier to wear a chain as punishment six years ago. The investigation took years to complete.
Pentagon officials are also under fire for possibly blocking National Guard response to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. The District of Columbia National Guard commander testified before a joint Senate committee in March that the Pentagon delayed giving him authority to deploy troops to the Capitol until hours after the request was made.
Contributing: Savannah Behrmann.