“I have no personnel announcements other than to say that the president still supports him,” she said.
White House officials have discussed the possibility of installing Tata, who has been a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark Esper since earlier this year, in a different position in an acting capacity. This would be allowed under a provision in the Vacancies Reform Act that permits the White House to appoint someone to an acting post as long as the person has been in a senior adviser role at that agency for 90 days before the vacancy occurs.
Tata’s nomination to be undersecretary of defense for policy took a turn on Thursday when the Senate Armed Services Committee canceled his confirmation hearing minutes before it was supposed to begin. Tata has come under fire in recent months for the Obama tweet and for referring to Islam as the “most oppressive violent religion I know of,” among other controversial statements. Tata later said he regretted the now-deleted tweets.
Committee Chair Sen. Jim Inhofe said in a Thursday statement that many lawmakers still don’t know enough about Tata to consider him for the position, adding that the committee didn’t get certain required documents in time.
“As I told the President last night, we’re simply out of time with the August recess coming, so it wouldn’t serve any useful purpose to have a hearing at this point, and he agreed,” Inhofe said.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the committee’s top Democrat, said in a Thursday statement that “members on both sides of the aisle have raised serious questions about this nominee.”
A majority of Armed Services Democrats oppose Tata. One Republican, Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, has also warned he would vote no on his confirmation, though for different reasons.