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  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Mark Esper after Esper was sworn in as the new secretary of defense on July 23, 2019.

    U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Mark Esper after Esper was sworn in as the new secretary of defense on July 23, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 July 2019

The former soldier and lobbyist for weapons maker Raytheon Co, Mark Esper, was sworn in as the Pentagon Chief.

Army Secretary Mark Esper was sworn in as U.S. secretary of defense Tuesday, hours after the Senate cast a strong bipartisan vote, ending the longest period the Pentagon has been without a permanent top official.

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Esper was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in a White House ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump and attended by a number of Republican lawmakers. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on a vote of 90-8 several hours earlier.

“That’s a vote that we’re not accustomed to, Mark. I have to say that, so congratulations,” Trump told Esper, a former professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

Four of the eight “No” votes came from senators running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar.

Trump’s new choice, mark’s the third pick to run the Pentagon since he took office. Previously, acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan was working as acting Pentagon chief. 

Esper, 55, has been working in the Pentagon since 2017 when Trump named him Army Secretary. Contrary to former acting Secretary Shanahan, Esper has a long career in the armed forces a new private sector-minded approach to warfare

The former soldier and lobbyist for weapons maker Raytheon Co (RTN.N) received strong bipartisan support despite sharp questioning during his confirmation hearing by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren about his ties to Raytheon and his refusal to extend an ethics commitment he signed in 2017 to avoid decisions involving the company.

Warren, 2020 presidential hopeful, was the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to voice opposition to Esper’s confirmation during the hearing. Raytheon is the third-largest U.S. defense contractor.

Shanahan withdrew from consideration on June 18 after reports emerged of domestic violence in his family.

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