US Senate confirms Robert Gates as new Secretary of Defense

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Robert Gates

The United States Senate voted overwhelmingly today to confirm Robert Gates as the new Secretary of Defense, replacing outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The vote came a day after the Armed Services Committee voted unanimously to recommend Gates's confirmation.

Senators from both parties praised Gates for bluntly stating that the United States was not winning the war in Iraq, and that new strategies were needed. "Dr. Gates spoke with candor — a candor that has been sorely missing from the Department of Defense under this administration," said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA). "He recognized the high price that our troops are paying for the current policy." Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said that Senators saw "the possibilities of a new chapter ... but it is up to the commander in chief to structure a change in policy."

Gates was approved by a vote of 95-2, with dissenting votes coming from Republican Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Jim Bunning of Kentucky.

President Bush named Gates, now aged 63, who had served as Director of the CIA under his father, President George H.W. Bush, the day after Democrats won control of both houses of the incoming 110th Congress in an election marked by frustration over the continuing war in Iraq.