Senate confirms Esper as next Secretary of Defense

After nearly seven months without a permanent civilian leader at the Pentagon, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to confirm Army Secretary Mark Esper as the next Secretary of Defense.

"President Trump has made an outstanding choice for Secretary of Defense," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as the GOP-led Senate put Esper's nomination on a very fast track, after waiting months for the President to nominate someone to replace James Mattis, who resigned back in December.

"Dr. Esper has the experience, the knowledge, and the character for the job," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

"We have someone that is enthusiastically supported by Republicans and Democrats," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The final vote was 90 to 8.

There were some hints of the 2020 race for President in the final Senate vote, as five of “No” votes came from  Democrats running for President: Booker (NJ), Klobuchar (MN), Warren (MA), Gillibrand (NY) and Harris (CA).

Also voting 'No' on Esper were three other Democrats - they included both Senators from Oregon, Merkley and Wyden, plus Markey (MA).

Two Senators did not vote - Isakson (R-GA), who is recovering from fractured ribs, and Sanders (I-VT).

The vote to confirm Esper means there is only one Cabinet post open in the Trump Administration - for the job of Secretary of Labor.