From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the nomination.
The bill clerk read the nomination of Lt. Gen. Herbert R. McMaster,
Jr., to be Lieutenant General in the United States Army while assigned
to a position of importance and responsibility under title 10, U.S.C.,
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the cloture motion
The question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the McMaster
Mr. TOOMEY. I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There appears to be a sufficient second.
The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.
Mr. CORNYN. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the
Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Alexander), the Senator from Wyoming (Mr.
Barrasso), the Senator from Tennessee (Mr. Corker), and the Senator
from Georgia (Mr. Isakson).
Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Tennessee (Mr.
Alexander) would have voted “yea,” the Senator from Wyoming (Mr.
Barrasso) would have voted “yea,” and the Senator from Tennessee (Mr.
Corker) would have voted “yea.”
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber
desiring to vote?
The result was announced--yeas 86, nays 10, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 90 Ex.]
The nomination was confirmed.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Colorado.
Mr. GARDNER. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote, and I move
to table the motion to reconsider.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question is on agreeing to the motion.
The motion was agreed to.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Rhode Island.
Mr. REED. Mr. President, I voted to support Lieutenant General H.R.
McMaster retaining the grade of lieutenant general while serving as the
National Security Advisor to the President. To be clear, this vote was
to permit Lieutenant General McMaster to remain in the grade of
lieutenant general while serving in this position. It is not to confirm
him as the National Security Advisor.
Lieutenant General McMaster was appointed by the President to a
position that does not require Senate confirmation. Indeed, he is
already serving as National Security Advisor. The only remaining
question is whether he will serve in the military grade of lieutenant
general on Active Duty.
The position of National Security Advisor is one of the most
important in our government. Not only does it require someone capable
of providing timely and thoughtful counsel on national security
matters, it entails coordinating advice and action across multiple
executive agencies with responsibilities in the national security
arena. Further, it necessitates a large measure of independence and
This is not the first time we have considered an Active-Duty military
officer for this position. Lieutenant General McMaster would be the
third such officer to so serve, following Admiral John Poindexter under
President Reagan and General Colin Powell under President George
Herbert Walker Bush.
Many of my colleagues are rightly concerned about this and question
whether it would be more appropriate for him to retire and serve in a
civilian capacity. While I strongly believe it would be better for
Lieutenant General McMaster to retire and avoid all perceptions of
politicizing the military, he believes that serving in uniform will
help him remain apolitical in service to this Administration. He can
expect Congress to hold him to his word that wearing the uniform in
this position will serve to keep the military above the political fray.
Some Members have expressed concern about the proper functioning of
our national security apparatus and clear chains of command with
respect to military advice provided to the President under this
arrangement. While Lieutenant General McMaster would be the National
Security Advisor to the President, providing day-to-day advice and
counsel on all national security matters, General Joseph Dunford, as
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would continue to be the
“principal military advisor” to the President, while Secretary Mattis
is the “principal assistant to the President in all matters related to
the Department of Defense.”
As Senator Sam Nunn described the issue with respect to the
nomination of then-Lieutenant General Powell, in Senator Nunn's words,
“A military officer who knows that his next promotion depends on the
Secretary of Defense and the top generals and admirals in the Pentagon
may simply not, over a period of time, be able to make completely
objective decisions based on the fact that his promotion, his pay, and
his future depend on one department, and that one department is an
active player in the government.”
This question centers on Lieutenant General McMaster's ability to
retain the necessary measure of independence as he discharges his
duties to the President. I ultimately believe, after careful
consideration, that Lieutenant General McMaster will be able to balance
these roles and provide advice and direction designed to further the
Nation's interests and not simply those of the Department of Defense or
indeed, to advance his own ambitions.
It is also my hope that Lieutenant General McMaster will be a
moderating influence on a White House that desperately needs talented,
informed, and professional advisers. This Administration has proposed a
reorganization of the National Security Council structure that excludes
the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National
Intelligence from meetings unless specifically invited. Lieutenant
General McMaster assured the Committee that General Dunford and the DNI
will be invited to attend any meeting of the Principals Committee of
the National Security Council, and I appreciated that assurance.
The Trump Administration reorganization also added the President's
chief strategist, Steve Bannon, to the National Security Council. This
politicization of the NSC is unsound, and I think without merit. The
law creating the National Security Council is purposeful in trying to
create a managerial and policy process that develops the best national
security policy for our Nation. The idea that a partisan political
operative like Mr. Bannon should serve on the National Security Council
runs counter to longstanding practice, and must, in my view, be
It is my hope that Lieutenant General McMaster has the vast
experience and knowledge and the requisite temperament and independence
to provide the national security expertise that is sorely needed in the
Moreover, Lieutenant General McMaster must have the support and the
backing of the President so it is clear that he runs the National
Security Council on the President's behalf. That support is not yet
apparent. According to Politico just a few days ago, the President
overruled Lieutenant General McMaster's advice and chose to listen to
Mr. Bannon and the President's son-in-law, Mr. Kushner, in regard to
the retention of a key intelligence analyst who had been brought in by
Major General Flynn. This is a worrisome sign that Lieutenant General
McMaster might have a title and responsibilities but not the authority
he needs. I indeed hope he has that authority and exercises it wisely.
I would also like to note that there have been reports about
decisions Lieutenant General McMaster made as Commanding General at
Fort Benning in allowing lieutenants under his command to attend
schools while being investigated for allegations of sexual misconduct.
I want to assure my colleagues that the Committee held a closed and
classified executive session with Lieutenant General McMaster present
to answer all our questions. The Committee thoroughly considered the
facts and voted to confirm his third star by a strong bipartisan vote.
We are again taking a rather extraordinary step in voting on an
Active-Duty military officer to serve as National Security Advisor for
the first time in 25 years, but these are extraordinary times. Our
Nation faces complex national security challenges, and 3 months into a
new administration, we are on a second National Security Advisor
already. We see a disorganized National Security Council and an
enormous number of vacancies in the State and Defense Departments.
Lieutenant General McMaster has the opportunity to bring order to the
chaos. Therefore, I believe the Senate should confirm his grade of
Lieutenant General while he serves as National Security Advisor.
I yield the floor.
I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.