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Trump’s Air Force Secretary Pick to Face Confirmation Vote

by Countable | 5.8.17

President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as Air Force secretary, Heather Wilson, will face a confirmation vote in the Senate today after the former member of Congress was approved by the Armed Services Committee on a 22-5 vote in early April.

Who is Heather Wilson?

Wilson, 56, was a member of one of the first graduating classes at the U.S. Air Force Academy to include women and became a Rhodes Scholar prior to completing her service requirement. She then spent seven years as an officer serving as a negotiator and political adviser for the Air Force in England and a defense planning officer for NATO in Belgium, working on arms control negotiations. She left the Air Force when she was chosen to be the National Security Council’s director for European Defense Policy during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

After starting a business and working for the administration of then-New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Wilson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998, where she served until 2009 after an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2008. After leaving Congress, she formed a consulting firm and eventually worked for a Lockheed Martin subsidiary. Currently, Wilson is the president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

What came up in her confirmation hearings?

While the Senate Armed Services Committee approved her nomination on a bipartisan, 22-5 vote, there were several issues of note that arose. Democrats asked questions about the Lockheed Martin subsidiary she worked for, and whether she’d received payments to lobby for it rather than producing substantive work. Ethics laws prohibit lobbying by former members of Congress for one year after they leave office, but Wilson’s conduct wasn’t faulted by an audit conducted by the Dept. of Justice.

The operational challenges faced by the Air Force were, as expected, a big part of the confirmation hearings. Wilson noted in her testimony that the Air Force faces a widening "pilot gap" and needs 900 more fighter pilots to reach its goal. She also said that she would be transparent about announcing any plans to retire aircraft, like the F-15C/D fighter jet, in response to a question from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), but as a civilian isn’t privy to classified planning documents.

What does the Dept. of the Air Force do?

Along with its equivalents for the Army and Navy, the Dept. of the Air Force makes up one-third of the Dept. of Defense’s military departments and administers that branch of the military. It’s made up of more than 315,000 active duty Air Force personnel, more than 160,000 Guard and Reserve, and over 140,000 civilians. For fiscal year 2017, the Dept. of the Air Force submitted a $120.4 billion budget request.

Tell your senators what you think of Heather Wilson's nomination as Air Force Secretary using the "Take Action" button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(28)
  • IAmTheSenate
    05/08/2017
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    Seems like a decent pick, as long as her friends in the industry don't force her into any conflicts of interest.

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  • Judith
    05/08/2017
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    I distrust anyone associated with or nominated by the most politically corrupt, ethically vile, criminal "administration" in our history, so I am dubious at best. The only positive is that this seems like the only nominee that has ANY experience relative to the job for which they are nominated. The details of that experience may or may not be a positive asset, but I would certainly expect Congress to do it's due diligence in vetting...oh, never mind, they are just a rubber stamp for the fascist, unqualified, treasonous liar in the Oval Office. History will not be kind to any of these Party-before-Country traitors!

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  • Thanahelen
    05/08/2017
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    So long as she passes ethics rules and doesn't have any conflicts of interest she should get confirmed. She is more than qualified and she will appear to be a good voice of reason for this administration. Even though that seems to be a low bar to clear.

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  • Tony
    05/08/2017
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    Yes, finally we get someone who is related to the job!

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  • Norm
    05/08/2017
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    While credentials are good, I can't help wonder if her business relationship with Lockheed Martin, is untoward. Also, even though I'm not normally hawkish, is this candidate up on current Air Force practice and changes, material needs, and personnel, since she was an officer. Lastly, who else was on the short list for that position? Were they for example, someone with higher rank, greater understanding of the Air Force's complexity, or someone battle experience.

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  • Ty
    05/08/2017
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    She is a good person and friendly person that you'll ever meet

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  • Ingrid
    05/09/2017
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    Heather Wilson appears to be one of the more qualified-for-the-job-for-which-nominated people put forward by this administration to date. She should be seriously considered for the post, with careful review of past business lobbying (e.g. how might industry connections vs actual mission requirements affect decisions regarding Air Force requirements -- we don't need more requests for super expensive aircraft boondoggles).

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  • Simon
    05/08/2017
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    I know who she is and she would not be my first pick. However, I am not opposed to her like I am to the others, and she is qualified, so that's a win!

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  • Cathy
    05/08/2017
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    Heather Wilson was bad for NM why would you hire at the fed level?

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  • Shera
    05/09/2017
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    From the information presented, she seems to be quite a remarkable woman and a valid candidate. More vetting may be needed regarding such things as her lobbying.

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  • Marc
    05/08/2017
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    She seems to be a pick that meets many standards for someone in this job. I do not know her nor have I heard anything positive or negative about her except in the very short bio here. I am also not familiar with what she may have as a goal for the Air Force and that would be good to know. Her brush with the lobbying world which seemed to be glossed over, may be something of interest. Overall though, she seems to be a reasonable pick and depending on how her hearing goes, should determine her confirmation.

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  • Sarah
    05/08/2017
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    At least she is a veteran.

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  • Janet
    05/08/2017
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    Seems reasonable.

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  • JaredThePoet
    05/08/2017
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    Miss Wilson seems to be an upstanding, intelligent woman. Hire her for certain. She has experience and knowledge.

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  • Ticktock
    05/08/2017
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    Seems like another mistake. She appears to be very qualified to the extreme as well as being deeply involve in Branch of service that she being nominated to manage. Veto yes.

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  • Carl
    05/08/2017
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    Yes, she is a very good as well as capable person! I would love to see her confirmed!

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  • Djramos
    05/08/2017
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    If she is vetted and it checks out than great.

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  • Pat
    05/08/2017
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    She sounds solid. I have a misgiving that she lobbied but other than that she appears qualified.

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  • Ingrid
    05/15/2017
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    Refreshing to have someone by the Trump government nominated for a position that they actually have some experience in and knowledge about. Glad to see Heather Wilson approved as Secretary of the Air Force.

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  • Thomas
    05/08/2017
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    She seems to be experienced and competent, characteristics in short supply in this administration. Given the information we have available, we should hire her.

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