Despite a last-minute flurry of confirmations by the Senate last week, several high-profile Pentagon hopefuls who didn't get votes before session's end were left wondering when their nominations may move forward.

Among them are Brad Carson, tapped to be the new undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and Eric Fanning, nominated to become the next Army secretary. Both men are already serving in the roles in "acting" capacities, but neither has had a hearing on a permanent appointment yet.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., slowed a host of civilian defense nominations over the last year for a variety of stated reasons, including objections to how Democrats handled confirmations in 2014 and the White House veto to the annual defense authorization bill.

Military nominees haven't seen the same parliamentary headaches. And in recent weeks, that Senate logjam on civilian appointments has lifted.

In its final week of the session this month, the committee advanced and the Senate confirmed new Army Undersecretary Patrick Murphy, Air Force Assistant Secretary Gabriel Camarillo, Navy Assistant Secretary Franklin Parker, and three other top Defense Department senior executives: Marcel John Lettre, John Conger and Stephen Welby.

Brad Carson, actiing undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Photo Credit: Staff

A week earlier, in testimony before the Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Ash Carter criticized senators for the delays, saying having leaders in place is critical to operational success "especially in a time of conflict."

But the last-minute confirmation rush still leaves five senior defense officials — including Carson and Fanning — awaiting a final decision. The committee has not announced hearings on either nominee, or a timeline when any of the five will move forward.

The Senate doesn't return to Capitol Hill until Jan. 11, and will be focused on opening session business and the annual State of the Union address that week. The committee has scheduled an oversight hearing on stability projects in Afghanistan the following week.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.

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