Collins opposes key Pentagon nominee, narrowing confirmation path

“He warned of the disaster following the move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, when instead we saw historically close Arab-Israeli relations in 2020,” said the Senator from Maine.

“Some of Dr. Kahl’s actions have raised questions about his ability to work thoughtfully and productively with Congress,” Collins added in a statement to POLITICO. “If America is to successfully meet our toughest national security challenges, we need a candidate for this position who will help bring Republicans and Democrats together.”

Only one of Biden’s nominees has so far failed to receive Senate approval: Collins, Manchin and Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, rejected Neera Tanden’s offer to become head of budget, and she was withdrawn before her committee vote. Collins voted for Xavier Becerra as secretary for health and human services on Thursday, casting the decisive 50th vote due to a democratic absence.

Kahl’s nomination has been in serious jeopardy for over a week, Manchin thinks. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stood up for Manchin to support Kahl, who apologized during his confirmation hearing for what he described as “disrespectful” social media posts.

Manchin is a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, which means Kahl needs the West Virginian vote to get out of the panel and into the Senate with ease. However, some have said that Kahl’s tweets weren’t nearly as damaging as Tanden’s, explaining why the West Virginia host didn’t come out as a harsh no-vote.

As he and the administration urge to save his confirmation offer, the vote in the Kahl committee has been postponed from the original date last week. With a two-week hiatus in the Senate approaching, it seems he won’t be confirmed until mid-April at the earliest.

Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.

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