The Senate confirmed Eric K. Fanning’s nomination as the secretary of the Army on Tuesday, making the 47-year-old the highest-ranking openly gay official at the Pentagon and the first openly gay leader of a branch of the U.S. military. Nominated by President Obama in September, Fanning, who has served in high-ranking posts across the military, including undersecretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy, had his confirmation put on hold for eight months by Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts as leverage in a dispute with the White House over the possibility of relocating prisoners from Guantánamo to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
On Tuesday, Roberts lifted his hold. From NBC News:
“Let me be very clear on this — as a veteran, a Marine — I support Mr. Eric Fanning for this post,” Roberts said on the Senate floor late last month. “If the White House calls and assures me that terrorists held at Guantanamo will not come to Ft. Leavenworth, I will release the hold — immediately…” [A]fter changing his mind in allowing Fanning’s confirmation to move forward, Roberts on the Senate floor reiterated his belief Tuesday that he always considered Fanning the right person to lead the military’s largest branch, which currently has about 470,000 active troops.
Fanning was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote.