Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was nominated to take over the position that he has been filling and become the 27th Secretary of Defense. He has been the acting secretary since January 2019, following the resignation of then-Secretary Jim Mattis.
But the media is speculating on just how smoothly Shanahan’s confirmation process will go. Lawmakers, especially those who have already announced a Presidential run in 2020, will be asking some tough questions. Issues at the front of the line include Shanahan’s lack of experience. Although he has been filling the role for the past few months, many have criticized his stance on using DOD funds to pay for border security and the restriction on transgender individuals serving in the military.
Patrick Shanahan is being compared to his predecessor, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. The 26th secretary of defense, Mattis served over 40 years in the Marine Corps before becoming a Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and later serving as SecDef. The career veteran was known for speaking his mind, standing up when he didn’t agree with something that other officials did, and being an all-around no-nonsense kind of leader.
In contrast, Shanahan has worked for Defense contractor Boeing for more than 30 years before becoming the deputy secretary of defense in 2017 and then later filling the SecDef role in 2018. Boeing is facing its own questioning in response to recent major mishaps involving their 737 Max aircraft. While Shanahan was not specifically involved in the research and development of the aircraft, his ties to Boeing will be under fire at his confirmation.
Mattis resigned in late 2018, citing a misalignment between his own views and those of President Trump. Democrats, who as a party have been vocally critical of President Trump and his actions related to many issues, are concerned that Shanahan will not display the same commitment to taking a hard stance on what they consider issues with far-reaching implications.