Secret Hold Lifted, Gen Charles Q. Brown Confirmed as USAF Chief of Staff

Gen. Charles Q. Brown was confirmed as United States Air Force Chief of Staff in a 98-0 Senate vote yesterday after a secret legislative hold to stall the vote was lifted by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK).

While U.S. President Donald J. Trump nominated Gen. Brown for the position three months ago, the hold that was chalked up to being Corona Virus-related; however, DefenseNews reveals that it was placed on the nomination by a senator as a quid pro quo to further a political agenda.

A staunch supporter and advocate for his state, Sen. Sullivan hoped to use Gen. Brown’s nomination as leverage in a United States Air Force basing decision to designate Eielson AFB a strategic military hub. He has lobbied the Air Force on behalf of his state, to no avail.

The Air Force plans to buy a total of 179 KC-46s from Boeing. The tankers are based at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire. No decision has been made regarding Eielson AFB, which is still under consideration as one of four candidate bases in the Asia-Pacific region.

He placed the secret hold on Brown’s nomination to pressure the Air Force to base KC-46 aerial refueling tankers at Eielson Air Force Base, in his home state of Alaska. Sullivan lifted the hold last week and admitted to it yesterday when questioned.

Senators can keep a nominee from moving forward in the confirmation process in secret, but a formal hold must be reported to the lawmaker’s party leadership, according to DefenseNews. The procedure is time consuming, such as filing cloture, which is a motion to end debate that requires 51 votes.

When the presumptive official satisfactorily answers key questions asked by a lawmaker, the senator will usually drop the legislative hold.

Sullivan confirmed that he had held up Brown’s nomination while waiting for responses to additional questions about the KC-46.

“You probably saw the confirmation hearing. I had some follow up questions on it. They got back to me now and so he’s cleared hot,” Sullivan said. “You know the nomination process, you’ve seen that I take it very seriously. The questions I asked are serious and then when we have questions for the record, they’ve got to be answered appropriately. So we’re just going through that. And we got there, so yeah he’s cleared hot.”

Gen. Brown replaced Gen. Dave Goldfein as the Air Force’s top general.

Gen. Brown is the former commander, Pacific Air Forces; air component commander for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and executive director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Trump tweeted: “My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate. A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”

Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., nominated for reappointment to the grade of general and to chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee nominations hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

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